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Church members seek acquittal

Nat Molomo

MASERU – Seven members of the Methodist Church of Lesotho charged with assaulting rival church members have asked the court to free them for lack of evidence.

The Maseru Magistrate’s Court will rule on their application for acquittal on April 8.

The seven, who include an 83-year-old retired reverend who has been fingered as the ring leader, are charged with assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

They allegedly attacked two members of a rival faction of the church with sticks, stones and a hammer in January following a dispute over the use of a church school hall for worship.

The elderly clergyman, Daniel Senkhane, retired from the church in 1998, but has now formed a breakaway wing which insisted on using the same premises as his old church.

Defence lawyer Advocate Noni da Silva asked the court to discharge the accused arguing that the prosecution had failed to prove its case against his clients.

“We submit that all the accused including those who are said to have assaulted the complainants, must be discharged because evidence adduced by the crown was insufficient,” said da Silva.

She said the prosecution’s evidence was riddled with falsehoods and inconsistencies which the court could not rely upon. 

The crown had failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt, she added.

The defence argued that the prosecution had failed to establish that the accused had planned to cause grievous bodily harm on the complainants.

Prosecutor ’Mamongonyo Bassie-Pitso opposed the application.

“All elements of crime with which the accused are charged have been raised and proven before this court,” she submitted.

The prosecutor said it was established that the accused had assaulted the complainants physically and emotionally.

She said the crown had also established that the accused intended to cause grievous bodily harm.

Bassie-Pitso said this was proven by the fact that the accused brought weapons to the crime scene, meaning
they had planned it beforehand.

“It was also proven by the fact that even when the two men were already down the accused continued to assault them,” she submitted.

The prosecution pointed out that the accused did not have the decency to take the complainants to hospital.

She said the accused denied under cross-examination assaulting the two complainants, while pleading self-defence at the same time.

This contradiction meant the accused had a case to answer, Bassie-Pitso said.

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