FORMER army commander, Lieutenant General (Lt-Gen) Tlali Kamoli, and others’ much-postponed trial for the June 2015 murder of army commander, Lt-Gen Maaparankoe Mahao, has been tentatively set for 20 July to 7 August 2020.
It is envisaged that by then the Court of Appeal would have presided over and delivered judgement in Lt-Gen Kamoli and his co-accused’s appeal against Judge Charles Hungwe’s High Court verdict dismissing their application for the Zimbabwean judge to recuse himself from presiding over their trial.
Lt-Gen Kamoli and his co-accused allege that they will not get a fair trial and want the Zimbabwean judge to recuse himself on the grounds that he had prejudged them even before the trial.
They have had their 6 January 2020 application for Justice Hungwe’s recusal dismissed by the same judge on 21 January 2020 on the grounds the application lacked merit and the applicants had failed to prove that he was biased against them as they had claimed.
On Wednesday, Justice Hungwe dismissed Lt-Gen Kamoli and his co-accused’s application for leave to appeal in the Court of Appeal.
However, the Zimbabwean judge gave the accused the greenlight to appeal to the Court of Appeal on the grounds that it was in the interests of justice for the apex court to test the merits of their recusal application.
The Court of Appeal is only expected to begin its 2020 sitting in April. On Friday, South African Shaun Abrahams, the lead prosecutor in the Mahao trial, told the Sunday Express that the prosecution had hammered a deal with the defence lawyers and the High Court for the murder trial to begin on 20 July and continue until 7 August 2020.
“We agreed with the defence lawyers and the judge (Justice Hungwe) to set new trial dates beginning 20 July to 7 August 2020 because the defence showed their intention to appeal against Justice Hungwe’s recusal verdict,” Adv Abrahams told this publication.
He added: “The Court of Appeal session is sometime in April and it may run until end of that month. In May 2020 the bombs case will be running and another matter (Police Constable (PC) Mokalekale Khetheng’s murder trial) will be heard on 17 June until 10 July. So, we can have the Mahao matter after that (from 20 July 2020).”
Opposition Lesotho Congress of Democracy (LCD) Deputy Leader, Tšeliso Mokhosi, has been charged with PC Khetheng’s 2016 murder. He was charged alongside former Police Commissioner, Molahlehi Letsoepa, and four other police officers. Mr Makhosi is out on bail.
The other officers are 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.
Mr Letsoepa is in exile while the four officers are still detained in the Maseru Maximum Security Prison.
The “bombs case” is the attempted murder trial of Lt-Gen Kamoli and others in connection with the 27 January 2014 simultaneous bombings of the Moshoeshoe II homes of First Lady Maesaiah Thabane and her then neighbour ‘Mamoshoeshoe Moletsane as well as the Ha-Abia residence of former Police Commissioner, Khothatso Tšooana.
Lt-Gen Kamoli’s co-accused are Major Pitso Ramoepana, Captain Litekanyo Nyakane, Sergeant Malefane Heqoa and Corporal Mohlalefi Seitlheko. The trial is scheduled to run from 1 to 8 April and 18 to 29 May 2020. The matter will be before Botswana Judge, Kabelo Lebotse.
Once their Court of Appeal application is finalised, Lt-Gen Kamoli and his co-accused will stand trial for the 25 June 2015 murder of Lt-Gen Mahao.
His co-accused are Captain Litekanyo Nyakane, Captain Haleo Makara, Sergeant Lekhooa Moepi, Sergeant Motsamai Fako, Corporal Marasi ‘Moleli, Corporal Mot?oane Machai, Corporal Mohlalefi Seitlheko and Corporal T?itso Ramoholi.