Court to rule in Khetheng case
THE High Court will on 14 August 2017 make a judgment in a case in which the family of Police Constable (PC) Mokalekale Khetheng seek to have the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) authorities produce his body dead or alive.
Justice ‘Maseshophe Hlajoane’s judgment could, however, be rendered academic if a corpse which was exhumed on Friday is confirmed as PC Khetheng’s remains through a DNA test.
PC Khetheng was arrested by Hlotse police on 25 March last year during a feast in Sebothoane, Leribe and had not been seen or heard from again. This had 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.
PC Khetheng had been arrested and charged on allegations 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.
The case had been proceeding in the High Court, with numerous postponements, until last Wednesday when a special police investigating team arrested Inspector Mofolo and PC Ntoana in connection with the disappearance. Two more LMPS members have since been arrested in connection with the case.
The investigation led to the exhumation of a grave bearing an unidentified corpse at the Lepereng cemetery in the outskirts of Maseru on Friday. This was after the investigators were granted a court order on Thursday by the Magistrate’s Court.
In the habeas corpus application, a lawyer who had been representing the LMPS, King’s Counsel Motiea Teele, withdrew from the case on Friday after the law enforcement agency, which is now led by acting Police Commissioner Holomo Molibeli, decided against opposing the challenge.
Police Commissioner Molahlehi Letsoepa was sent on a 90-day forced leave by Prime Minister Thomas Thabane as a precursor to his dismissal, with the top cop currently negotiating exit terms with the government.
On Friday, the lawyer representing PC Khetheng’s father, Adv Letuka Molati, urged Justice Hlajoane to deliver her ruling based on the evidence that was already adduced in court. The exhumation took place at the same time as the court case.
Said Advocate Molati: “The position of the case presently is that counsel who used to represent respondents has withdrawn from the case.
“The first respondent (commissioner of police) has now changed his view about the matter and is no longer opposing the matter.
“The court should now exercise its discretion to appoint a date for this court to make its findings based on the evidence that is already before it.”
Adv Molati also undertook to summarise the evidence to the judge and submit it in written form by Tuesday this week.
The lawyer representing the LMPS, Adv Paseka Mokete, stated that the police were no longer opposing the application.
“We are ready to abide by the order that this court would give,” he said.
“In fact, I must tell this honourable court that police have already launched investigations into the matter and such investigations are in an advanced stage.”
Justice Hlajoane then reserved judgement to 14 August 2017, adding that she would give an oral or temporary judgment in the event her written judgment is not completed. The judge also said a full and reasoned judgment would be released in due course.