MASERU — A former senior police officer who made a dramatic escape from custody in 2003 after serving seven years of a 15-year jail term for high treason — only to be arrested two years later in South Africa — has applied for free bail at the Maseru Magistrates’ Court.
Phakiso Molise, then a second lieutenant in the Lesotho Mounted Police Service, was convicted of high treason in 1997 by the Lesotho High Court.
Molise, however, managed to escape with the help of a prison guard on August 7 2003 after being admitted at Queen Elizabeth II Hospital.
He fled to South Africa but was later arrested and extradited to Lesotho on August 5 2005.
Molise was found guilty of escaping from lawful custody by a prison tribunal but had not been charged in a court of law.
Molise finally appeared before Magistrate ´Makampong Mokhoro on Thursday and made his bail application.
A clean-shaven Molise, clad in grey trousers, a golf shirt and black pointer-jacket stunned the court after declaring he would not need the services of a lawyer ? a very unusual decision when someone is facing a charge as serious as escaping from lawful custody.
Crown counsel Lehlanako Mofilikoane had earlier told the court Molise was facing a charge which could earn him two or more years in prison if convicted.
Mofilikoane opposed Molise’s application for free bail, but said should the latter get a favourable ruling he must surrender his travel documents “as he might flee the country again”.
Molise spoke in a pleading tone as he tried to persuade the magistrate to grant him bail.
“If someone is found guilty of escaping from lawful custody, the maximum sentence is two years, according to the laws of Lesotho,” Molise said.
“I ask the court whether it is in the interest of justice for me to remain in jail when the case has taken two years without being finalised.
“It might even take five more.
“The prosecution has not denied my co-accused bail.
“Yet in the prosecution’s submissions, had it not been for his help, I couldn’t have escaped.
“If someone who helped me escape can be granted bail, the same should apply in my case.”
Molise quoted sections of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act of 1981 to back his bail application.
“The law says when someone is granted bail, it should not be heavy or burdensome,” he said.
“I have been in prison and don’t have anything as I have been out of work.
“I put myself at the mercy of the court.”
Molise drew laughter from the gallery when he said the court should ask itself what would have been the outcome had the matter been before Jesus Christ.
Magistrate ‘Makampong Mokhoro immediately warned Molise he risked going biblical with someone who might not be a Christian.
Trial continues on Tuesday.
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