HIGH Court judge, Justice Molefi Makara, had to briefly turn the proceedings in the Police Constable Mokalekale Khetheng murder case into a private session after one of the defence lawyers said there was a sensitive security issue that the accused wanted to discuss with the court.
Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) deputy leader Tšeliso Mokhosi and former Commissioner of Police, Molahlehi Letsoepa are among those accused of murdering PC Khetheng in 2016.
The case was eventually postponed to 22 January 2019 when it is believed that the foreign judges who will preside over the case would have arrived in the country.
The postponement came after two earlier events that included a request by one of the defence lawyers, King’s Counsel (KC) Karabo Mohau, for a 10-minute adjournment to enable him to take instructions from his clients.
After that break, another defence lawyer, Attorney Qhalehang Letsika asked for a private session with Justice Makara to allow the accused to discuss a “sensitive security issue” with the judge.
“I apply that the court and the accused meet in chambers as there is a matter which we want to put forward before the court but for security reasons we ask that the court be briefly moved into the chambers,” Attorney Letsika said.
Rather than moving into the chambers, Justice Makara ordered everyone to briefly leave the courtroom. Only the Lesotho Correctional Service (LCS) personnel, the defence soldiers and the prosecution were allowed to remain.
“We have a problem of sensationalising where a few people distort information.
“In pursuit of justice and mutual understanding among those directly involved in the matter, I convert this courtroom into a chamber as it has been said that there is a sensitive issue that needs to be addressed. Everybody, including the press, should excuse themselves. Only the accused’s security and the lawyers from both sides should remain,” Justice Makara said.
And when the proceedings eventually resumed, Justice Makara began by apologising for ordering the public out of the courtroom. He also said the sensitive issue had been addressed.
“The accused tabled their issues and we managed to solve the problem and now we are moving forward so that justice is served. It is not proper to send people out of the courtroom but under certain conditions I have to. There are a handful of pathological liars who are not at peace if they do not cause trouble, therefore we had to avoid that by excusing everyone from the courtroom,” Justice Makara said.
The judge subsequently postponed the case to 22 January 2019 after being advised by the Crown Counsel, Advocate ‘Naki Nku, that the foreign judges who will preside over the case will be in the country by that date.
Mr Mokhosi appeared alongside his co-accused, police officers, 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.
However, Letsoepa did not attend as he is in exile in South Africa where he fled to soon after he was sent on forced leave by Prime Minister Thomas Thabane in August last year.
PC Khetheng was reburied in his home district of Mokhotlong in August last year after the four officers’ arrest and interrogation by special police investigating team that same month yielded information on the whereabouts of his remains.
He had last been seen alive while being arrested by his colleagues at a traditional feast in Sebothoane, 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.
PC Khetheng’s disappearance prompted his father, Thabo Khetheng, to lodge an application before the High Court on 18 July 2016 for the police authorities to produce him dead or alive.
The case had dragged on for over a year until the appointment of the then Acting Police Commissioner Holomo Molibeli by Prime Minister Thomas Thabane in August 2017.
Commissioner Molibeli, who is now the substantive police commissioner, hit the ground running by establishing the special police investigating team which solved the mystery of PC Khetheng’s disappearance