Lesotho water project executive sentenced

SABC News, South Africa
June 4, 2002

Masupha Sole, the former chief executive of the Lesotho Highlands Development Authority, has been sentenced to a total of 57 years in prison, of which he will serve 18. This follows his conviction in May on 13 counts of bribery and fraud in the Lesotho High Court.

Sole was found to have taken bribes from international consultants and contractors to induce him to grant them lucrative contracts in the project.

Justice Brendan Cullinan found that Sole had collected bribes totalling about R6 million from international consultants and contractors over a period of nine years, to induce him to offer these companies lucrative contracts for the construction of the giant Lesotho Highlands Water Project that supplies water to South Africa.

Judge Cullinan said the sentence imposed by the court must express “the public abhorrence of what has transpired, and in particular emphasise that Lesotho simply will not tolerate corruption in its midst.”

He said the sentence imposed had to act as a deterrent to others in the future. The judge said while thousands of Sole’s countrymen and expatriates had laboured in “the alternating heat and biting cold of the mountains of Lesotho and the tunnels they excavated,” Sole betrayed their trust “and sought his rewards not in the measure of the esteem of his fellow men but in the lure of filthy lucre.”

Cullinan said the accused was now 54-years-old, married with four children and had an aged mother, and an extended family. It was a matter of regret that the punishment imposed upon an accused inevitably brought so much suffering upon his family.

He pointed out that Lesotho had suffered “intangible damage” in the worldwide perception of the corrupt administration of one of the largest water schemes in the world. A visibly angry Sole indicated in court that he planned to appeal the convictions and sentences against him, and apply for bail pending the appeal. – Sapa

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