Lesotho: Manyokole Cornered

Suspended Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) director general, Advocate Mahlomola Manyokole, has been given until next Friday to file his full response in the proceedings to determine his fitness to hold office.

Retired High Court judge, Teboho Moiloa, this week stamped his foot down and demanded that Adv Manyokole file his response by 17 September 2021. This after the embattled DCEO boss seemed to want to bargain for more time and delay proceedings. He had requested that he be given until 17 September to only provide the prosecution with a list of documents and DCEO staffers he wants interviewed in his defence.

But Justice Moiloa declined the request. He gave Adv Manyokole until yesterday to have submitted the list of documents and DCEO staffers he wants interviewed. He then ordered him to file his full response to the allegations he is facing by Friday next week.

Justice Moiloa, who told Adv Manyokole that he was bending over backwards to accommodate him, said the tribunal would resume full proceedings on 20 September 2021.

Prior to the orders, Justice Moiloa had sought a progress report from the state’s lawyers on their negotiations with Adv Manyokole over his legal fees.

Adv Manyokole had recently told the tribunal he had no money to fund his legal fees.

The tribunal is headed by Justice Moiloa. He is assisted by High Court Judge, Polo Banyane, and retired judge, Semapo Peete. Adv Manyokole is represented by Adv Tekane Maqakachane while the government is represented by Attorney Monaheng Rasekoai and Advocates Christopher Lephuthing and Kuili Ndebele.

Attorney Rasekoai said he had spoken to the Attorney General (AG), Adv Rapelang Motsieloa, who had duly granted Adv Manyokole’s request for legal assistance.

But Mr Rasekoai said he had still not been furnished with details of documents and witnesses required for Adv Manyokole’s response.

Justice Moiloa demanded to know if the two parties had agreed to timeframes on the filing of affidavits. Mr Rasekoai said they hadn’t because of Adv Manyokole and his lawyer’s lackluster attitude to the proceedings.

Justice Moiloa then asked Adv Manyokole to explain himself. He said Adv Maqakachane had told him that he could not proceed with defending him without a signed contract with the AG.

Adv Manyokole said he had also wanted legal advice on the list of documents required for his defence. He could thus only finalise his submissions after his lawyer and the AG’s office had signed a formal contract for the payment of his legal fees.

The response seemed to incense Justice Moiloa who saw it as a delaying tactic.

Mr Rasekoai was also unhappy with Adv Manyokole’s response.

“I feel that we have done all we can to extend the olive branch. We can only go so far… ,” said Mr Rasekoai, adding that he had engaged Adv Maqakachane repeatedly to try and resolve outstanding issues.

He then detailed the efforts he had made and read the letters he had exchanged with the AG in which the latter undertook to pay Adv Manyokole’s legal fees.

Mr Rasekoai was thus miffed by any impression that the AG had not fully cooperated to Adv Manyokole’s prejudice.

Justice Moiloa asked Adv Manyokole to explain why his lawyer was not prepared to proceed with the case on the strength of the AG’s undertaking to pay for the legal fees.

Adv Manyokole said he was not in a position to speak on behalf of his legal representative.

Justice Moiloa reminded Adv Manyokole of a of Court of Appeal ruling that the dispute be resolved expeditiously in the interests of justice.

He then gave Adv Manyokole until yesterday to provide the list of the documents and DCEO staffers needed for his defence. He ordered that Adv Manyokole’s responding papers be filed by 17 September to allow the tribunal proceedings to continue on 20 September. It remains to be seen whether Mr Mayokole will meet the deadlines.

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