MASERU — A former high-ranking police officer who escaped from custody in 2003 but was re-arrested two years later is set to apply for bail at the Maseru Magistrate’s court on January 21.
Phakiso Molise, who served as Second Lieutenant in the police force, was arrested and convicted of high treason in 1997.
He was slapped with a 15-year jail sentence by the High Court.
Molise however escaped from lawful custody with the help of a prison guard after he had been admitted at Queen Elizabeth II Hospital on August 7 2003.
He fled to South Africa after serving just seven years of his sentence.
However, luck ran out for Molise when he was arrested and extradited to Lesotho in 2005.
He now faces a charge of escaping from lawful custody.
When Molise appeared at the Maseru Magistrate’s court on Thursday his mother, younger sister as well as sister-in-law were all present in a show of support.
Security was tight at the courtyard with heavily armed prison guards stationed around the buildings.
After his court appearance Modise, dressed in grey jeans and a matching golf shirt, shuffled off in leg irons back to the prison truck.
The truck whisked him back to Maseru Central Prison.
Crown counsel Lehlanako Mofilikoane told the court that the case was supposed to be set before Magistrate Mokhoro.
She said the case could not be heard as the magistrate was still on leave until 15 January.
“(The) accused are remanded until January 21 for set down and accused one (Thabiso Mothobi who is being jointly charged with Molise for escaping from custody) is still on bail and should be told that he should be present on the day of remand.
“Their lawyer Advocate (Zwelakhe) Mda knew about the case but has not shown up and I don’t know where he is,” Mofilikoane said.
When Molise was extradited to Lesotho in 2005 he was hauled back to court and appeared before the chief magistrate Molefi Makara.
Molise however asked the magistrate to recuse himself arguing that he would not receive a fair trial under Makara.
The matter was then taken to the High Court.
High Court Judge Semapo Peete last November dismissed Mothobi and Molise’s application.
“The refusal to recuse on the part of the learned chief magistrate on the grounds of bias cannot be said to be reasonable. The appeal is therefore dismissed, no order to costs,” Justice Peete ruled.
“The resident magistrate (Nthabi, who took the case to the High Court) was gratuitously seeking a legal opinion from the high court under the guise of a referral.
“This was improper and irregular if not misconceived. The role of a judicial officer who has taken a judicial oath of office is that he shall administer justice to all without bias, fear or favour.
“The issue of judicial independence ought not to have been raised even mero metu (on my own) because the issue had not seized the court.
“It being gratuitously brought on board created a crisis out of which we now have to wriggle and extricate ourselves,” Justice Peete said last year.
The case is set to continue on 21 January before Magistrate Mokhoro.