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Court sets Kamoli trial date for Mahao murder

Mohalenyane Phakela

FORMER army commander, Tlali Kamoli and nine others’ trial for the June 2015 murder of army commander, Maaparankoe Mahao, will resume on 13 September 2021 and continue until 24 September.

The new dates were set on Thursday by Judge Charles Hungwe.

Advocates Shaun Abrahams and ‘Naki Nku will continue as the prosecutors.

This after Justice Hungwe, the presiding judge in the trial, dismissed Lieutenant General (Lt-Gen) Kamoli and his co-accused’s application for the recusal of Advocates Abrahams and Nku. They had sought the prosecutors’ recusal on the grounds that the duo was allegedly determined not to give them a trial. They had alleged that the two prosecutors were fabricating evidence to ensure they would be convicted and sentenced to death.

However, their application was thrown out last week by Justice Hungwe. He did not give reasons for doing so. This due to a request from both sides that he only announce the judgement as the courtroom was freezing and they did not want to remain in the building for too long.

The courtroom lacks a heating system hence the freezing temperatures in winter. Suspects and litigants have over the years complained about the cold but nothing has been done to address the situation.

Justice Hungwe said he would send the written judgement with its reasons to both parties in due course.

Lieutenant General (Lt-Gen) Kamoli’s co-accused are Captains Litekanyo Nyakane and Haleo Makara, Sergeants Lekhooa Moepi and Motsamai Fako, Corporals Marasi ‘Moleli, Motšoane Machai, Mohlalefi Seitlheko and Tšitso Ramoholi.

Former Director of Military Intelligence, Lieutenant Colonel Tumo Lekhooa, is also accused but he did not file an application nor is he in court with others. He is being tried in absentia as he fled the country in 2017.

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Hlalefang Motinyane, Advocates Abrahams and Nku were the first to third respondents respectively in the recusal application.

Lt-Gen Kamoli and his co-accused have been charged with the 25 June 2015 murder of Lt-Gen Mahao.

They have also been charged with the attempted murder of Lt-Gen Mahao’s nephews, Mahao Mahao and Mabilikoe Leuta, by shooting inside a vehicle in which they were passengers.

They are also charged with damaging Lt-Gen Mahao’s vehicle during the same operation, a white Nissan half-truck, by firing at it with an automatic rifle.

Lt-Gen Kamoli is further charged with the theft of Lt-Gen Mahao’s 9mm pistol and Samsung Galaxy mobile phone.

Their trial was halted on 8 July 2021 after their lawyers indicated that they intended to file the recusal application.

This after a state witness, Retired Colonel Thato Phaila, accused Advocates Abrahams and Nku of twisting his evidence to suit their own interests. Rtd Col Phaila accused Advocates Abrahams, Nku and police investigators of fraudulently amending his witness statement and forcing him to lie in his testimony.

Lt-Gen Kamoli and his co-accused subsequently seized on Rtd Col Phaila’s claims against the prosecution and applied for Advocates Abrahams and Nku’s recusal.

Lt-Gen Kamoli and his co-applicants were represented by Attorney Qhalehang Letsika and Adv Letuka Molati.

DPP Motinyane, Adv Abrahams and Adv Nku were represented by Adv Christopher Lephuthing.

When the trial resumes on 13 September, the prosecution is expected to proceed with re-examining Rtd Col Phaila.

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