By: Thoboloko Ntšonyane

MASERU- The alleged scammers appeared before the Maseru Magistrate Court for allegedly swindling Tholo Energy eye-watering M60 million.

The accused face charges of fraud, theft and money laundering.

They did “unlawfully take money…belonging to Tholo Energy with the intention of permanently depriving Tholo Energy of that money”.

On the count of theft, the accused have contravened section 68 (1) of Penal Code Act No 6 of 2010 read with section 109 and 26 (1). Alternative to count of theft, they are accused of contravening section 57 (2) (a) of the Penal Code Act no 6 of 2010 read with section 109 and section 26 (1).

Count three on money laundering,  the accused are guilty of contravening section 25 (1) of Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act No 4 of 2008 as amended in 2016 read with section 25 (4).

While some of the accused are the employees of Tholo Energy, the company they have allegedly siphoned millions off from for; some time, there are also members of the security agencies involved in this crime.

The accused are Tumisang Thahanyane (47 years) of Ha Thamae, a former Chief Financial Officer (CFO) at Tholo Energy, Khoholeli Victor Makhetha (51 years) of Ha-Foso, Vicmo Industrial Supply (Pty) Ltd represented by Makhetha, ’Malerato Khutlisi (44 years) of Ha Thamae, who happens to be a Councilor at Stadium Area MM C04 and trades as Shelly Brown Car Wash and Refreshments, ’Mabolae Mohasi (45 years) of  Ha-Thetsane, Lisebo Sepheakhang (’Makarabelo Tsikinyane)(42 years) of Mazenod, Siene Ratšiu (29 years) of Upper Thamae, Corporal Lehlohonolo Teba (36 years) of Ha-Abia Maseru, City Metal a company represented by Teba and Ratšiu, Ntaso Khanyapa (42 years) of Ha Motloheloa, Maseru, Moratuoa Hlongwa (43 years) of Katlehong, Maseru, Talenta Masoatsa (39 years) of Ha Tikoe, Maseru,a member of the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) Police Constable (P/C) Thabana Thabana (31 years) of Matholeng Mafeteng but stationed at Thetsane Police Post, Lineo Khotseng (31 years) of Khubetsoana, Maseru,Tloaelo Khutlisi (39 years) of Ha Khutlisi, Rothe, Ha Paki, Ntsane Nyai (34 years) of Qoaling,  Earthly Market- a company represented by Nyai, and

Corporal Lereko Matlotlo (36 years) of Thabaneng, Mafeteng. Nyai and Matlotlo are both members of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) and hold the rank of Corporal.

All the accused have been admitted to bail.

According to the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) report Thahanyane who is the owner of Shelly Brown Club has been granted bail of M15 000.00 bail and M70, 000.00 surety.

Some of the accused have been admitted to bail amounting to M10, 000.00 and M50, 000.00 surety. The police reported that some slept in their custody as the offices were closed by the time they tried to process their payments for bail.

According to the police report, Inspector ’Matšepang Kopo from the theft and fraud department in the LMPS reported that on November 1, 2023, they received a report from Tholo Energy to the effect that auditors flagged the missing M60 million in their reports. This money, the police report, was fraudulently used to pay people disguised as workers of the company yet those scammers did not have employment numbers.

The police further reported that their investigations pointed out that accused number one, Thahanyane who is Tholo Energy’s former CFO had effected the fraudulent electronic transfer payments (EFTs). Police said the scammers tried to distance themselves from the payments saying they rendered no services to Tholo Energy but the police managed to pin them to this fraud syndicate.

“In that upon or about the period between 2018 and 2023 … at or near Tholo Energy Offices at Mantanki Building in the district of Maseru, the said accused sharing a common intention or purpose to pursue an unlawful act together and in pursuit of such common intention did unlawfully and deliberately present to Tholo Energy or its employees a false representation or conceal from Tholo Energy or its employees the fact which in the circumstances they had a duty to reveal that the EFTs (electronic funds transfers) that were made by accused no 1 to all accused persons and were for Border PMTS with the intention that Tholo Energy or its employees should act upon the representation to their detriment and did there and then by means of the said false representation caused Tholo Energy and or its employees to believe the false representation and acted thereupon to their detriment by allowing such payments…,” reads the charge sheet.

These monies according to police were paid to different individuals all related to Thahanyane who is accused no 1.

He allegedly transferred to his two personal accounts M6 063 157.69 made up a total of 364 transactions with the money from his former employer.

According to the charge sheet, accused no 2 trading as Victor Construction received M796 231.00.

Accused no 3 received M10 960 138.52.

Accused no 4 trading as Shelly Brown received M4 767 573.40.

Accused no 5 received M1 813 580.00.

Accused no 6 received M2 953 409.00.

Accused no 7 received M186 054.00 (in his personal account) while he received M5 429 462.85 trading as Siene Suppliers.

Accused no 8 received M109 257.00.

Accused no 9 received M4 093 726.84.

Accused no 10 trading as Success and Gifts received M422 375.00.

Accused no 11 received M487 750.00 in her personal account.

Accused no 12 trading as Creative Holdings received M4 693 624.05.

Accused no 13 received through Lonewolf (Pty) Ltd M449 448.00.

Accused no 14 is reportedly accused no 1’s colleague and holds a position of Senior Accountant, and one of her duties was to proof check accused no 1 be that as it may, accused no 1 deposited the company’s money into her personal account.

“Whereas accused no 1 [Thahanyane] is the employee of Tholo Energy (Pty) Ltd (Tholo Energy), holding the position of Chief Financial Officer… His duties include [to] amongst others initiate, process and effect payments on behalf of Tholo Energy.

“Accused no 1 is also the biological father of the two children born of accused no 4 (Khutlisi) and furthermore two children born of accused no 5 (Mohasi). Accused no 1 is also the boyfriend to accused no 6 (Tsikinyane).

“Whereas accused no 7 (Ratšiu) is a helper and friend of accused no 1 by running his chores including those of accused no 4 and 5, accused no 8 is the brother in law of accused no 1 as he married the sister of accused no 1,” reads the charge sheet.

Thahanyane, according to the police report, would give those with whom he had romantic relationships with from M200,000.00 to M1 million. 

“All the monies that were transferred by accused no 1 to all accused persons …were stolen or fraudulently obtained from Tholo Energy (Pty) Ltd,” says the charge sheet.

The police said some of this stolen money including assets acquired from these proceeds of crime have been frozen.

The accused appeared before Resident Magistrate Motlatsi Kolisang and Prosecutors Motinyane, Joala and Motiki.

The case continues.