Maseru Senior Resident Magistrate Peter Murenzi is said to have yesterday ordered the arrest of suspended Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) director general, Mahlomola Manyokole. This after Advocate Manyokole allegedly failed to honour Acting DCEO boss Adv Sefako Seema's demand for him to report to the DCEO office to answer money laundering allegations levelled against him.
According to authoritative government sources, Adv Manyokole allegedly took some money which had been deposited into the anti-corruption body's safe shortly before his suspension last month.
"Magistrate Murenzi issued a warrant of arrest against Manyokole this evening (yesterday) after Manyokole repeatedly failed to honour requests to report to the DCEO," a government source said in an interview with the Lesotho Times yesterday.
"He (Manyokole) allegedly took some money from the DCEO safe. The money was part of exhibits in the cases the DCEO is investigating. Some of the money he took from the safe has been deposited into the DCEO account but M83 000 is untraceable. The DCEO wanted him to explain what happened to that money but he has failed to cooperate," the source said.
Another source said the warrant of arrest had still not been executed because Adv Manyokole could not be located.
"Taking exhibits from the DCEO's safe is tantamount to obstructing justice as this will prevent the anti-corruption body from achieving desired outcomes in the cases that it is investigating. So, he is not only wanted for money laundering but also for obstructing the course of justice.
"But he has not been arrested because he is very evasive. However, he is likely to be arrested as soon as they locate him," the source said.
Contacted for comment last night, Acting DCEO boss Adv Sefako Seema refused to confirm that they wanted Adv Manyokole arrested. Without giving any names, he said the DCEO "has been calling people of interest to assist in its investigations of some key corruption cases".
"I can only confirm that there are ongoing inquires and people are being called to assist with those inquiries. We want to interrogate those issues and establish if there is any truth to them so that we can have answers to give to our principals. That is all I can say," Adv Seema said.
However, Adv Manyokole last night confirmed being asked to present himself at the DCEO offices yesterday. He also suggested that he was aware of the issuance of the arrest warrant, saying it was meant to embarrass him as he was not a fugitive from justice.
He however, said he had not reported to the DCEO as he was still waiting for Adv Seema to put his request in writing because one of the conditions of his suspension is that he should not set foot at the anti-graft body's offices.
"The said warrant of arrest is meant to harass and embarrass me because today I was queuing at the South African High Commission applying for my child's study permit when I received the call to report to the DCEO.
"I told Ntate Seema that I was in a queue and I would not be able to come. I also asked him to write a letter detailing the conditions of my going there because I am on suspension and one of the suspension conditions is that I should not go to the DCEO offices. I clearly asked Seema to either write to me because I don't want to be accused of violating my suspension conditions.
"Seema also called me about exhibits but did not go into detail. He instead told me 'these people want you here now'. I asked him which people when he is the chief investigating officer and he instead said, he does not want to be accused of meddling with investigations. The DCEO writes to people to report to its offices, it does not verbally call people for questioning. They should take me to court instead of embarrassing me like this," Adv Manyokole said.
According to a leaked WhatsApp communication between Adv Seema and Adv Manyokole, DCEO officials visited the latter's residence in Maseru on Tuesday but did not find him at home.
The officials left a message for him to report at the DCEO offices yesterday.
"I received a report yesterday from my children at home informing (me) that DCEO officials came to my residence requesting my presence at the DCEO offices today, 17 February 2021 at 8am," Adv Manyokole states in his message to Adv Seema.
"I don't know what this is about because I am still on suspension awaiting judgement in my case. Please clarify.
"I must note that I was taken aback by this request because last week you asked for a private meeting with me outside the DCEO premises. I agreed but I told you that I needed to finish up my children's study permit applications. I am still battling with the study permit applications even today Ntate. The schools are already opening and my children are not able to attend school for that reason.
"I want to confirm that the DCEO officers who came to my house yesterday (Tuesday) had your permission. If your answer is in the affirmative, please put the request in writing to avoid any misunderstandings because I have a (suspension) letter from the Right Honourable Prime Minister, Dr Moeketsi Majoro.
"Ntate Seema, I humbly request your good office to allow me to finish my children's study permit applications and write a letter inviting me to your office if there is anything I need to come for. Like I said, please clarify in writing what is needed from me.
"Remember I am supposed to hand over some office items to the DCEO that were removed from my desk by my secretary, some of which belong to the office but you requested that I can do that later. So, I don't understand what is now happening. Three officers came to my house including the chief investigator Mr Tau Phasumane".
Adv Seema replied that, "the officials wanted to talk to you about some inquiries, please comply. By the way, as you recall last week, you requested for the car and I said we could meet and sort out your contractual obligations as you were directly talking to staff requesting cars and the like. I wanted you to talk to me directly. Like I said, I can meet you anywhere, as long as it is work related. They (officers) will await you at the time communicated".
Adv Manyokole was suspended last month by Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro on allegations of incompetence. He was suspended on the advice of Justice and Law Minister, Professor Nqosa Mahao.
The suspension triggered a bitter High Court battle between the two sides wherein Adv Manyokole alleged that Dr Majoro and Prof Mahao were "crusaders of corruption" who had only suspended him because he was investigating them and other high-profile people for corruption.
Adv Manyokole's application to reverse the suspension and stop the premier from appointing a tribunal to decide on his fitness to remain in office is pending in the High Court.