CONVICTED double murderer, Lehlohonolo Scott, is adamant that he is innocent and he wants to challenge his life sentence handed down in June 2020 by the now retired judge, Teboho Moiloa.
He has petitioned the High Court to order High Court and Court of Appeal registrar, ‘Mathato Sekoai, to enrol his appeal against the conviction and sentence.
In his application filed last week, Scott alleges that Advocate Sekoai erred by rejecting his February 2022 motion to appeal on the grounds that it was filed late as well as his failure to engage a lawyer.
He still does not have a lawyer and he is representing himself in his latest application.
He says he has always wanted to appeal ever since his conviction and sentence but he did not have a lawyer after the withdrawal of Adv Thule Hoeane who had represented him on a pro deo basis.
Pro deo lawyers are engaged by the state to represent suspects who cannot afford legal fees. They are paid by government for their services.
Adv Sekoai, the Chief Legal Aid Counsel, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Hlalefang Motinyane, the Law Society of Lesotho, Adv Hoeane and Attorney General Rapelang Motsieloa are the first to sixth respondents respectively in Scott’s latest application.
“On 4 February 2022, the office of the Rehabilitation Correctional Service informed me that the registrar had declined my notice of appeal on the basis that the rules of the Court of Appeal do not permit ordinary persons to approach the Court of Appeal unrepresented, therefore, I was not in a position to defend myself in person before the Court of Appeal,” Scott states in his court papers.
“The fact of the matter is that the registrar’s decision to withdraw a pro deo counsel impaired my ability to prepare and mount a proper appeal against my conviction and sentencing.
“As a result, I had to bear the brunt of the registrar’s decision. Suffice to say that it impacted negatively on my impending appeal which I am prepared to move mountains in my lawful efforts to ensure that it sees the light of the day despite the registrar’s unfortunate effort to impede me from accessing justice.”
He argues that section 129 (1) of the constitution guarantees the right to appeal “in respect of all persons”. Hence it was wrong for Adv Sekoai not to enrol his application. Her decision must therefore be set aside, Scott argues.
“It is my viewpoint that indigent persons who cannot shoulder legal fees are not exempted from this right to appeal by virtue of their financial standing. The failure by the registrar to endorse the pro deo fees facility for the purpose of mounting a proper appeal against my sentence and conviction and her decision to disallow my appeal for not having a legal representative is an indicator of an administrative malady on her part which vitiated her administrative decisions,” Scott argues.
Scott was initially arrested on 12 July 2012 for the murder of his Koalabata neighbours, Moholobela Seetsa and Kamohelo Mohata.
He was accused alongside his mother, ‘Malehlohonolo Scott, who he lived with in Koalabata. The body parts of Lehata and Seetsa were retrieved by the police at their Koalabata home.
Justice Moiloa found the duo guilty on 23 June 2020 and sentenced Scott to life imprisonment while ‘Malehlohonolo, who was gravely ill at the time, was slapped with a suspended three-year sentence. She died in January 2021.
Scott further argues in his application that the body parts found in his home were planted by the police after he was arrested alongside his mother.
“It was established during my trial that various items exhibited in court were retrieved from my house days after the police had confiscated my house keys and gained free access to the house. These are items they did not find or see during their first search prior to confiscating the house keys.
“The Crown evidence of what transpired during the search of the house, the items retrieved and their mode of retrieval leave much to be desired as it is evident from the testimonies of Crown witnesses that the said items were only found and seen for the first time after the police had gained free access to the house in the absence of the house residents who were by then in police custody. Evidence on record shows that the house keys were only returned to my brother Rethabile Scott on 14 July 2012 after they were confiscated on 12 July 2012.
“It is humbly submitted that whatever items were found and recovered inside the house during this period when the police were in absolute possession of the house keys had nothing whatsoever to do with me. The only inference that can be drawn is that those items were planted by those who had gained free access to the house. The decision by the trial judge (Moiloa) to admit such evidence against me was erroneous and stands to be reviewed and set aside by the Court of Appeal.
“The prosecution had failed to connect me with exhibits retrieved from the Corsa Van found parked outside my house and failed either to connect me with the said Corsa Van or to prove its ownership through the production of evidence. It is my testimony that I never owned the said vehicle and two more defence witnesses corroborated my testimony. It is also my humble submission that whatever was retrieved from this vehicle had nothing to do with me and ought not to have been admitted as evidence against me,” Scott argues.