MASERU — Four men appeared in the High Court on Tuesday charged with the murder of a fellow villager they suspected of cattle rustling 10 years ago.
Moeketsi Molise, Moeletsi Lesooana, ‘Mari Lesooana and Tšeliso Cheeli are being accused of assaulting and fatally shooting Sekoche Makhabane on February 1 2000.
The prosecution alleges that they were accusing him of stock theft.
The accused, who are all members of the Majaheng anti-theft committee, pleaded not guilty before Acting Judge Lisebo Chaka-Makhooane.
Crown witness Chief Machakela Makhabane told the court that the defendants accosted Sekoche Makhabane at a local bus stop and severely assaulted him before shooting him.
“Sekoche Makhabane was forced out of a taxi by the accused and when he tried to run away, he was tripped,” Makhabane said.
“‘Mari Lesooana, Moeletsi Lesooana and Tšeliso Cheeli then started assaulting him using sticks.”
Chief Makhabane said he then heard two gunshots as the accused were attacking Sekoche.
“I believe the shots were fired by either ‘Mari Lesooana or Tšeliso Cheeli because both were carrying firearms on the day of the attack.”
According to Makhabane, a local businessman then arrived on the scene and pleaded with the accused to stop the attack.
“The injured Sekoche Makhabane was put into the businessman’s vehicle and driven to Maluti Hospital, in Mapoteng,” he said.
“He was still alive. The defendants were also in the vehicle as it left for the hospital.”
Makhabane said he only learnt of Sekoche’s death after making a follow-up at Maluti Hospital.
“I was told no injured person from Majaheng had arrived at the hospital,” he said.
“I then proceeded to Mapoteng police station where they told me Sekoche had died on the way to the hospital and that his body had been taken to a mortuary in Teyateyaneng.”
Cross-examined by defence lawyer Selebalo Lekokoto, Makhabane admitted that two of the accused had earlier reported to him over missing livestock.
Asked by the prosecutor if Sekoche had owned a firearm, Makhabane said he only remembered one incident in which the deceased opened fire on a group of villagers who had confronted him over their missing livestock.
“The villagers had found some meat in a ditch near Sekoche’s home and they suspected he had butchered one of their sheep,” the chief said.
“They wanted to bring him to me for trial but he ignored the villagers.
“Instead, he started firing at the villagers, injuring one man in the process.”