Court sets date for recusal application
THE matter in which five soldiers accused of the attempted murder of the Lesotho Times editor Lloyd Mutungamiri want Senior Resident Magistrate Phethise Motanyane to recuse himself for trying their case will be heard on Tuesday.
The five soldiers are also expected to appear before the Maseru Magistrates’ Court on 17th of this month for the court to set a date for the hearing of the long-delayed attempted murder case.
Mr Motanyane set the new dates during the quintet’s appearance before him on Thursday for the routine remand proceedings.
The five army officers are Brigadier Rapele Mphaki (47), Khutlang Mochesane (57), Mahanyane Phusumane (37), Nyatso Tšoeunyane (41) and Maribe Nathane (35).
They allegedly shot Mr Mutungamiri at his home in Upper Thamae in Maseru during the late hours of 9 July 2016. Mr Mutungamiri sustained severe facial, dental and hand injuries, causing him to undergo extensive surgery in South Africa.
It had been anticipated that the long awaited trial would finally kick off on 15 March this year when the five appeared before Magistrate Motanyane.
But on that day their lawyer, Advocate Kabelo Letuka, immediately informed the court that they intended to formally apply for the senior resident magistrate to recuse himself from the case for undisclosed reasons.
The recusal application has served to further delay the case which had been slated to begin after the Acting Director of Public Prosecutions, Adv Hlalefang Motinyane, directed in March this year that the case should be heard by a magistrate of the rank of Senior Resident Magistrate.
It was previously presided over by Resident Magistrate, Polo Banyane, who had only been remanding the accused each time they appeared before her while awaiting the finalisation of the prosecution’s case.
And on Thursday, Mr Motanyane said the recusal application will be heard on Tuesday.
“You will appear before this court again on the 17th May 2018 and your recusal application against me will be heard on the 8th May 2018 in your absence, as your lawyer says,” Mr Motanyane said.
Mr Motanyane also ordered the prison authorities to make copies of the health book of one of the accused army officers, Nyatso Tšoeunyane and give it to his lawyers.
The order was made after Adv Letuka told the magistrate that the prison authorities said they could not release Tšoeunyane health book without a court order.
Adv Letuka said Tšoeunyane was facing some health problems that needed urgent attention.
He raised the concern that the prison authorities wanted to take his client for an operation without consulting his relatives.
“We are not saying he should not be taken for an operation but it should be done in consultation with his family members because an operation is a life threatening exercise,” Advocate Letuka said.
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