By Nthakoana Ngatane
MASERU – South African prosecutor Shaun Abrahams has been paid nearly M8million in just under three years, but he failed to conclude the high profile cases he was called for, says Lesotho minister of Justice Lekhetho Rakuoane.
Rakuoane presented the answer to the National Assembly yesterday, to a question asked by Lesotho Congress for Democracy deputy leader Tšeliso Mokhosi.
In this financial year alone, the budget allocated to pay Abrahams has reached M6million, while last year and the year before it was M2million and M1.7million respectively.
Abrahams had been assigned many high profile cases, but Rakuoane says he is now left with the alleged murder of former army commander Maaparankoe Mahao, where another former army commander Tlali Kamoli is one of the accused.
Earlier this year he left the job when his payments were delayed, and he told the court that he would step down citing “professional reasons”.
But director of public prosecutions, Hlalefang Motinyane, promised to resolve the unsaid “professional” reasons and now Abrahams is back.
Rakuoane says the country still owes Abrahams M2million bringing the total to nearly M10million, and that excludes the costs of travel and hotel accommodation during his stays in Lesotho for court appearances.
The minister put it in context saying “In two and a half years Abrahams was paid an average M300,000 per month, 7 times the prime minister’s monthly salary”
The question that many Basotho have asked on public forums is – was it necessary to get a prosecutor from outside the country, especially Abrahams who is not highly regarded in South Africa where he was the head public prosecutions?
He and his former deputy Nomgcobo Jiba and his predecessor Mxolisi Nxasana are accused of derailing the prosecution of former president Jacob Zuma.
The high court in that country said Abrahams was not just an innocent bystander who became collateral damage to an unlawful deal struck between Zuma and Nxasana – but that his own conduct was unbefitting the position.
When Zuma went to court to challenge Nxasana’s removal, Abrahams joined the Zuma fight.
In its judgment the court found that “He (Abrahams) associated himself, inconsistent with the imperative of prosecutorial independence, on all material issues with the position of the president”.
Rakuoane says he doesn’t know who made the decision to appoint Abrahams, but it is clear that he failed to conclude some of the cases, and others will have to be re-prosecuted because his interpretation of Lesotho law was flawed, so that is money down the drain.