Crime & CourtsLocalNews

Constitutional case stalls Mokhosi murder trial

Mohalenyane Phakela

THE case in which former Defence and National Security minister Tšeliso Mokhosi, former Commissioner of Police, Molahlehi Letsoepa, and four other police officers stand accused of the 2016 murder of Police Constable (PC) Mokalekale Khetheng once again failed to proceed on Thursday and it has been postponed to 8 May 2019.

High Court judge Justice Molefi Makara resolved to postpone the case to 8 May by which date it is expected that a verdict would have been reached on the constitutional case in which Mr Mokhosi, former army commander Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli and 14 others are challenging the recruitment of foreign judges of foreign judges to preside over theirs and other cases involving serving and former members of the security agencies.

The other 14 applicants are Major Pitso Ramoepane, Thabo Tšukulu, Mothibeli Mofolo, Mabitle Matona, Rapele Mphaki, Pitso Ramoepana, Lekhooa Moepi, Mahlele Moeletsi, Mahlomola Makhoali, Nthatakane Motanyane, Motšoane Machai, Liphapang Sefako, Nemase Faso, Tieho Tikiso and Litekanyo Nyakane.

They want the appointment of the foreign judges by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to be nullified on the grounds that it is unconstitutional.

In terms of the interim relief, they want Justice Hungwe and the other foreign judges to be interdicted and prevented from commencing criminal proceedings until the finalisation of their main court application.

And on Thursday when Mr Mokhosi and four of his co-accused in the murder appeared before him, Justice Makara resolved to postpone the matter. This was after submissions by the defence lawyer, Advocate Khotso Letuka, who said they were still awaiting the verdict of Mr Mokhosi’s constitutional case challenging the appointment of foreign judges to preside over politically sensitive cases including his murder trial.

“We have come before you to seek another date because there is a constitutional case which will determine the future of this case.

“The constitutional matter is challenging the appointment of foreign judges, one of which is to preside over this case, although we have not been given a name as yet,” Adv Letuka said.

Crown Counsel, Advocate ‘Naki Nku also asked for the matter to be postponed to 8 May 2019.

“We have been advised by the office of the Registrar of the High Court to postpone the matter to 8 May 2019 therefore this is the date we are asking for my lord,” Adv Nku said.

The case was then postponed to 8 May.

Messrs Mokhosi and Letsoepa stand accused of murdering PC Khetheng in 2016.

They were charged along with four other police officers, namely, Senior Superintendent Thabo Tšukulu, Superintendent Mothibeli Mofolo, Inspector Mabitle Matona and Police Constable Haleokoe Taasoane who are all currently on suspension from the police service.

PC Khetheng was last seen alive while being arrested by his colleagues at a traditional feast in Sebothoane in Leribe on 25 March 2016.

PC Khetheng had been arrested and charged on allegations that he torched the house of his superior in Mokhotlong district where he was deployed.

He was allegedly last seen with Inspector Mofolo, PC Ntoane, PC ‘Mabohlokoa Makotoko and Senior Inspector Matona.

The LMPS had argued that PC Khetheng had left the Hlotse police station without permission and they did not know where he was. For its part, the Khetheng family argued that the police should know where he was because they arrested him.

PC Khetheng’s body was exhumed at Lepereng Cemetery in the Maseru district on 11 August 2017 after the police were granted a court order by the Magistrate’s Court in light of the investigations into his disappearance and suspected murder.

All the accused, except for Mr Letsoepa, who remains in exile in South Africa, attended the Thursday court session. Mr Letsoepa is at large after he skipped the country in August 2017 soon after he was sent on forced leave by Prime Minister Thomas Thabane.

In an unrelated development, Justice Makara on Thursday railed at the Lesotho Correctional Services (LCS) officers in charge of transporting suspects to court, saying their reckless driving compromised the safety of the suspects and other road users.

“The manner in which you drive is very dangerous and compromises the safety of other road users. My safety and dignity are also compromised as the judge of this court. At times I have to forcefully apply brakes to avoid bumping into your speeding cars. The safety of other road users is also affected.

“You are human being too and it also puts your lives at risk as well as the prisoners you carry in those vehicles. When you drive in that fashion, it is highly likely that you will hurt people. I am not a security person and I do not know how you conduct your security issues but please, consider the way you drive for the sake of everyone,” Justice Makara said.

The officer in charge of the group which escorted the four accused to court, Superintendent Tsunyane, promised Justice Makara that they would address his concerns.

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