MASERU — Four men who stormed a local restaurant and helped themselves to free food and beer have been granted bail by the Maseru Magistrate’s Court.
The four, who are all brothers — Mohanoe Kokoropo, 43, Seatile Kokoropo, 40, Tsela Kokoropo, 32, and Mokhachane Thamae, 34 — are alleged to have stormed Setsoto Restaurant in Ha-Matala last month.
The brothers are alleged to have twice helped themselves to free food and beer after terrorising and chasing away members of staff.
Setsoto Restaurant was once owned by the Kokoropo family and was a very popular entertainment joint in the 1990s.
The restaurant was however auctioned to the Mokete family in 2007 after the Kokoropo family failed to honour its loan repayments with Standard Lesotho Bank.
It would appear that the four have still not gotten over the loss of the business which they still claim to be their own.
The court heard that Seatile and Tsela Kokoropo first stormed the restaurant on February 21 in the company of several men and three guards from a local security firm.
The two brothers allegedly broke into the cold room and seized some beer which they distributed among their entourage before barbecuing some meat.
Workers at the restaurant immediately informed their employer, ‘Mateboho Mokete, who reported the incident to the police at Lithoteng Police Station, the court heard.
Six days later on February 27, Seatile, Tsela, Mohanoe and Thamae allegedly barged into the restaurant premises again and poured gravel on the driveway disrupting business.
The four allegedly chased away restaurant staff and told them never to return to work again.
They then threw an impromptu “party” at the restaurant without the permission of the owner. They were arrested by police officers from Lithoteng Police Station when the party was in full swing.
Crown counsel ‘Mamongonyo Baasi told the court that the accused should not be given bail given the gravity of the charges they were facing.
“The accused damaged the complainant’s property, drank beer and ate meat, without her consent. The state should deny them bail as these are very serious charges,” Baasi said.
But defence lawyer, Nthabiseng Hlaoli, argued the four should not be kept in custody as they were not a flight risk.
“The accused are citizens of Lesotho and will not run away,” Hlaoli said.
“I ask the court to grant them free bail as they have Lesotho passports.
“They also co-operated with the police during investigations.”
Magistrate Tšeliso Bale consented and granted the accused bail.
Seatile and Tsela were granted bail of M700 each, while Mohanoe and Thamae were granted bail of M500 each when they appeared before Bale on March 2.
The four, who are facing charges of malicious damage to property, are expected back in court on July 2.
“The conditions of your bail are that you should not interfere with crown witnesses,” Bale said.
“You should also stay away from the complainant’s business and her residence.”