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Apex court excoriates DPP over pending cases

  • seven criminal cases to be struck off roll because of DPP’s inaction

Mohalenyane Phakela/Nat Molomo

THE Court of Appeal has summoned Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Advocate Hlalefang Motinyane, to appear before it on 14 October 2019 to explain why seven criminal cases pending before the apex court should not be scrapped off the roll on account of her office’s failure to prosecute them.

According to a recent circular issued by Court of Appeal Assistant Registrar, Advocate Mosito Rabotsoa, some of the cases have been pending on the roll from as far back as 2011 due to lack of records which should have been provided by the DPP’s office.

For instance, if Adv Motinyane fails to give a satisfactory explanation to the apex court next month, there is a possibility that 53-year-old ‘Makhotso Molise, who was sentenced to hang for murdering the mother-in-law of Acting Chief Justice ‘Maseforo Mahase might soon be a free woman. Ms Molise had appealed her sentence but the DPP had not provided the relevant records for the appeal to be heard.

The said cases are: C of A (CRI) 9/2011 (Crown Vs Rantoane Motsoetla and others) filed on 9 September 2011, C of A (CRI) 1/14 (Seabata Ramohajane Vs Rex) filed on 13 January 2014, C of A (CRI) 5/14 (‘Makhotso Molise, Khotso Molise and Mantoa Mokoaleli Vs Rex) filed on 29 September 2014, C of A (CRI) 6/14 (Adil Osman and Mahomed Ashraf Osman Vs Crown) filed on 4 November 2014, C of A (CRI) 3/19 (Pusetso Makhele, ‘Matli Makhele and Khoroane Makhele Vs Rex filed on 29 March 2019, C of A (CRI) 4/19 (Tebello Mothobi and others Vs Rex filed on 12 April 2019 and C of A (CRI) 5/19 (Major Pitso Ramoepana Vs The President of Court Martial) filed on 9 May 2019.

Adv Motinyane is expected to be present when the second 2019 session of the Court of Appeal commences on 14 October 2019.

“In all of these appeals, the appellants are in prison helplessly awaiting the finalisation of their criminal appeals now pending before the Court of Appeal, some of the appellants had been sentenced to death penalty,” Adv Rabotsoa states.

“In terms of Rule 7 (1) of the Court of Appeal Rules of 2006, the Director of Public Prosecutions’ office in criminal matters is responsible for the preparation of court records. You (DPP) will recall that in all these matters listed below, the records of proceedings have, until now not been filed.

“Section 12 of the Constitution of Lesotho, 1993, provides for the right to a fair trial in respect of all persons. The appellants in these appeals are entitled to be heard within reasonable time as they are not exempted from the said right by virtue of having been found guilty by the High Court.

“The president of the Court of Appeal has directed me to inform you to appear before the court on 14 October 2019 to explain why these criminal appeals should not be disposed of in light of Rule 7(1) of the Court of Appeal Rules 2006 read with section 12 of the Constitution as well as section 3(1) of the Court of Appeal (amendment) Act No.8 of 1985 on the grounds of miscarriage of justice and unfair trial processes.”

Adv Rabotsoa alluded to the issue of a backlog of cases involving suspects who had been sentenced to death and were languishing in prison. Adv Rabotsoa said this in April this year when the April session of the apex court was unceremoniously suspended. At the time, she said the suspension derailed their efforts to clear the court’s huge backlog which included cases involving appellants who have been sentenced to death.

“We already have a huge backlog and the suspension of the April session means that things will only get worse. The most worrying factor is that of people who have been sentenced to death and are languishing in prison because they cannot appeal due to dysfunctional of the Court of Appeal. They remain in custody not knowing whether or not they will be executed any minute,” Adv Rabotsoa said in April.

If Adv Motinyane fails to give a satisfactory explanation to the apex court next month, Ms Molise who was sentenced to hang for murdering Justice Mahase’s mother-in-law might become a free woman.

Ms Molise was found guilty of murdering 86-year-old ‘Manthakoana Ngatana and sentenced to hang in 2014 by High Court judge, Justice Tšeliso Monaphathi.

In passing the judgement, Justice Monaphathi described the killing as “brutal and premeditated” and further slapped Ms Molise with an additional 15-year jail sentence for the robbery of the deceased’s property.

The convict was charged along with her son Khotso Molise and his girlfriend ‘Mantoa Mokoaleli.

Mr Molise and Ms Mokoaleli were jailed to a total of 75 years for both robbery and murder.

The deceased’s body was found locked in a bedroom by her neighbour in 2009 after a frantic search in both Lesotho and South Africa.

The deceased’s property, which included utensils and other valuables, was found in Ms Molise’s and Mokoaleli’s possession.

 

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