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Judge grants “treason” soldiers bail 

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Moorosi Tsiane 

TWO soldiers facing treason charges over the 29-30 August 2014 attempted coup have been granted bail. 

High Court judge, ‘Maliepollo Makhetha, finally granted them bail on Friday following their numerous previous failed attempts to be freed. 

She released them on M10 000 bail deposit and M70 000 surety each.  

Lance Corporals Motloheloa Ntsane and Leutsoa Motsieloa, have had several of their bail petitions dismissed on the grounds that they had failed to prove exceptional circumstances to justify bail. 

They had in September last year launched a new bail application arguing that their seven-year stay in custody without trial was grossly unreasonable.  They cited that as a compelling circumstance as the case was being repeatedly postpned. 

The judgement on the matter was at first scheduled for 14 December 2023 but was delayed as the judge had to attend to a withdrawal application by lead prosecutor, Adv Shaun Abrahams and his colleague, Motene Rafoneke, over the non- payment of their fees. 

On Monday, the case could not continue as Crown counsel, Adv Rafoneke, informed the court that the witness who was still in the box giving evidence, retired Colonel Tanki Mothae, was not available as he was in Zambia. He had been giving evidence since May 2023. 

Adv Rafoneke told the court that he was informed by the Director of Public Prosecutions, Hlalefang Motinyane, over the weekend that Col Mothae would not be available on Monday. 

This angered Judge Makhetha who said the office of the DPP was responsible for the numerous delays since she took over the case in 2022 and that that was not fair to the accused persons. 

She said she did not see any reason why she could not admit them to bail if in the seven years since their detention, the Crown had only managed to call one witness out of the 91 lined up. 

Justice Makhetha granted the duo’s bail application on Friday last week, and only issued the bail conditions yesterday. 

L/Corps Ntsane and Motsieloa are charged alongside former army boss Tlali Kamoli and Captain Litekanyo Nyakane. They are also charged with two politicians Mothetjoa Metsing and Selibe Mochoboboroane, who have long been on bail. 

Lt-Gen Kamoli and Capt Nyakane did not bother applying for bail. This may be because they are facing several other murder and attempted murder cases. In the case before Justice Makhetha, the two politicians and four soldiers stand accused of allegedly attempting to overthrow then Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s government via a coup on 29 August 2014. 

They have also been charged for the murder of police Sub Inspector Mokheseng Ramahloko, who was shot and killed by soldiers as they raided police stations that day, and the attempted murders of police officers Letsekang Mothibeli and one Moeketsi.  

They are also accused of the aggravated assault of police Lance Sergeant Thabisa Kopa, PCs Mokete Litulo, Mone and Sub Inspector Joele. All these incidents allegedly happened during the coup attempt on 29 and 30 August 2014. 

The trial will continue on 22nd April 2024 with Col Mothae expected to continue giving his evidence. Col Mothae had earlier explained to the Sunday Express sister publication, the Lesotho Times that he had not been made aware of the date on which the case was due to resume, hence his non-appearance.  He has also demanded the cancellation of the warrant of arrest issued against him over his non-appearance failing which he will consider withdrawing his cooperation with the DPP’s office in the case. 

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