June 4, 2002
Maseru – The former chief executive of the Lesotho Highlands Development Authority, Masupha Sole, was on Tuesday sentenced to 18 years in prison by the Lesotho High Court for taking bribes from international firms.
Justice Brendon Cullinan ordered Sole’s sentences for 11 counts of fraud to run concurrently, but ordered his sentences for two bribery convictions to run consecutively.
These orders reduce Sole’s sentence from 57 years to 18 years imprisonment.
Sole (54) was found guilty last month of accepting bribes from international consultants and contractors from the United States, Britain, Canada, France and Germany to induce him to grant them lucrative contracts in the giant project.
Cullinan said Sole, who appeared in court on a hospital stretcher last month after back surgery, had shown no remorse in court at the gravity of the crimes he had committed.
He was convicted on bribery charges amounting to more than one million dollars, linked to the Lesotho Highlands Water Project which supplies water to South Africa.
Sole said in court that he would appeal the convictions and sentences against him, and apply for bail pending the appeal.
“We still have a long way to go with this man on the matter,” Sole said angrily, referring to his plans to appeal the judge’s decision.
Cullinan found that as the chief executive and as an engineer, Sole knew the sources and purpose of the payments made to his accounts at banks in Lesotho, Zurich, and Ladybrand, South Africa, through intermediaries.
Canadian contractors Acres International and Germany’s Lahmeyer International are presently on trial for bribery in the Lesotho High Court.