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I confessed under duress says suspected armed robber

Nkoate Thamae

A HA MABOTE man implicated in two armed robberies which allegedly occurred in Maseru in 2011 says police forced him to confess to the crimes. Lebakeng Mofana who appeared before Magistrate Thabang Tapole has denied involvement in the two armed robberies which allegedly took place on March 5 and November 13 2011 in Khubetsoana and Borokhoaneng respectively.
In his defence, Mofana who represented himself in court said after his arrest in November that year, he was taken before Magistrate Palesa Rantara to make the confession. He said the confession was however made under duress, saying police threatened to assault him if he declined to make it. “The confession was unlawful and police also tricked me into making it with the promise of granting me bail,” Mofana said.

He added that police also tortured him during his detention. He denied knowledge of a firearm that was allegedly found in his possession on his arrest on November 13 2011. “I don’t know anything about a gun mentioned in my charge sheet,” he said
On the day in question, he said he was from Sea-Point on his way to Upper Thamae when he suddenly heard the sound of gun shots coming from the direction he was headed to. “Then I saw a number of people running in my direction. The next thing I saw was a man who I later came to know as Officer Mokhakala of the Lesotho Defence Force firing a gun in my direction.

“I raised my hands and the man arrested me without giving me a charge. He used my belt to tie my hands before later handing me over to the Mejametalana Air-Wing Police,” he said. Mofana also denied ever being in a vehicle — a Toyota Prado, allegedly used to rob a Chinese businessman and his Mosotho employee in Borokhoaneng earlier that day. Evidence led before court showed that the vehicle later overturned near Lower Thamae, after it was chased from the scene of the crime by members of the Lesotho Defence Force travelling in a white Toyota Lexus.

Mofana said in both robberies, none of the victims identified him as their alleged assailant, insisting that he was maliciously arrested. Although he agreed that Officer Mokhakala found him behind a nearby house, he however denied hiding in a ditch.
“It is possible that upon my arrest, my clothes were covered with soil, and that was only because Mokhakala kicked me around before tying me up with my belt,” he said.

Under cross examination by Advocate Mongolo Mohapinyane for the crown, the accused said he was home with his siblings on March 5 2011, when the Khubetsoana robbery occurred. The case was postponed to February 21 for judgment. Meanwhile Lena reports that Chief Justice Mahapela Lehohla on Friday ordered that 192 prisoners be released from different correctional institutions in the country. The order was made at the annual ceremonial opening of the High Court Session and inauguration of both the Maseru Magistrate and Commercial Court held in Maseru.

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