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‘Kamoli could destabilise the country’

. . . says prosecution in bid to keep former army chief jailed

Staff Writer

THE prosecution has pulled out all the stops in its quest to ensure that murder-accused former army commander, Lieutenant-General Tlali Kamoli, is not granted bail claiming that he retains strong support and influence in the military and could team up with co-accused soldiers with devastating consequences for the country’s security and stability.

Lt-Gen Kamoli, was charged with one count of murder and 14 counts of attempted murder in the Magistrate’s Court on 16 October 2017.

The murder charge is for the fatal shooting of police Sub-Inspector Mokheseng Ramahloko during the 30 August 2014 attempted coup against the first government of Prime Minister Thomas Thabane.

In the murder charge, the former LDF chief was joined to three army officers who were charged last month and are also detained at the prison.

The 14 attempted murder charges stem from the 27 January 2014 simultaneous bombings of the Moshoeshoe II homes of First Lady Maesiah Thabane, ‘Mamoshoeshoe Moletsane and the Ha Abia residence of former police commissioner Khothatso Tšooana.

The former army commander had applied for bail on 20 October this year and on 23 October, with the prosecution subsequently filing its intention to oppose his application.

The date for hearing the bail application will be decided by the High Court tomorrow.

And the prosecution, which will led by renowned Advocate Haae Phoofolo, is leaving nothing to chance in its quest to ensure Lt-Gen Kamoli remains behind bars until his case is finalised.

The prosecution has prepared a lengthy answering affidavit in response to Lt-Gen Kamoli’s bail application.

In his court papers, Lt-Gen Kamoli submits that he should be granted bail because he did not kill Sub-Inspector Ramahloko and  he voluntarily handed himself over to the police and cooperated with them after being called in for questioning.

He states that he would not abscond but stand trial to finality.

The former army chief also cites the backlog of court cases which he said would mean that he will endure a lengthy prison stay before his case was tried. He also says the release on bail would enable him to fend for his family and asserts that he is the sole bread-winner.

However, the prosecution states in its answering affidavit that if released on bail, Lt-Gen Kamoli could gang up with fellow co-accused who are all trained military personnel with potentially disastrous consequences for the peace, security and stability of the country.

“Your petitioner (Lt-Gen Kamoli) still enjoys a very strong support base and influence on other members of the military and his release on bail is a huge risk which will jeopardise law and order or state security,” the prosecution states in its answering affidavit.

“Members of the military who committed various crimes and who, your petitioner refused to release to the police, are being held accountable for those crimes.

“If released, they might join forces and destabilise the country. These are trained personnel. We have walked this road before and it is not ideal to take a trip down memory lane or relieve the past. These are testing times for the country which is at cross-roads where security reforms amongst others should be the business of the moment.”

The prosecution also states that contrary to Lt-Gen Kamoli’s protestations of innocence he “did actually plan and conspire to kill the deceased Mokheseng Ramahloko and or was acting in common purpose with the co-accused persons in the commission of the alleged offence”.

“Evidence will show that he (Lt-Gen Kamoli) gave the orders for the operation to be carried out.”

In response to Lt-Gen Kamoli’s submission that he did not detonate bombs at “anybody’s residence,” the prosecution avers that there is evidence that he ordered some of his subordinates to “attack and/or threaten” Liabiloe Ramoholi (who is now First Lady (Maesiah Thabane) and Mr Tšooana.

“Looking at the weapons used, one can without any doubt safely say that the intention changed along the way looking at the weapons that were used to execute the plan (bombs) and it is apposite to mention that no one could access or use such weapons without the authorisation of your petitioner (Lt-Gen Kamoli).”

The prosecution further states that contrary to Lt-Gen Kamoli’s submission that he had been very co-operative with the police and that he will stand trial to finality, the former army commander was either a “flight risk” who would use his hefty army retirement payout of more than M4.1 million to flee the country and start a new life elsewhere outside the country or he could use his influence within the military to interfere with witnesses to the case.

The prosecution states that Lt-Gen Kamoli only handed himself over to the police because he was merely told to report himself and had not been told about the charges to be levelled against him, “the seriousness thereof and the severity of sentence they are likely to attract”.

“Now that he does (know the charges), these factors are likely to act as incentives for him to abscond.

“It could be the case that your petitioner did not conduct himself in a way that threatens the interests of justice since his retirement from the LDF. It is apposite to mention that this was when the wheels of justice seemed stationary; now that is visibly in motion with his arrest and remand it is not guaranteed that the position will be similar.”

“Your petitioner shall either not stand his trial or he shall interfere with Crown witnesses and God knows in what way he shall destabilise the country and thus the justice system, the Crown and the police will be prejudiced. The investigations in this case are nearing completion and very soon the matter shall be ripe for hearing.”

The state further asserts that Lt-Gen Kamoli was likely to interfere with Crown witnesses, given that he is a former commander of the military who knows very well the people who might be state witnesses “as he is quite clear as to who he planned the crimes with and who he gave orders to in order to execute the plans”.

The prosecution also disputes Lt-Gen Kamoli’s assertion that he is the sole breadwinner and he needs to be released on bail to provide for his family.

“Your petitioner’s (Lt-Gen Kamoli) wife also works and she can take care of the family. Apart from that your petitioner received a hefty payout upon retirement which is more than enough to cater for his concerns pertaining to his family.”

To support its assertions, the prosecution attached documents and payment vouchers which show that Lt-Gen Kamoli was paid in excess of M4.1 million upon his retirement from the army on 1 December 2016.

It contends that this amount was not only sufficient to take of his family but gave him the financial muscle to “easily relocate and start a new life elsewhere”.

The prosecution also seeks to hoist Lt-Gen Kamoli by his own petard by attaching and quoting from a letter he wrote to the lawyers of then detained army captain, Seabata Chaka dismissing a request for his release from detention so that he could receive medical attention at Queen ’Mamohato Memorial Hospital.

Captain Chaka had been advised by his doctor to go for further assessment and management of his ailment which needs an orthopedic surgeon.

However, Lt-Gen Kamoli responded to the letter saying: “As you should be aware, whenever detainees awaiting trial are in need of medical attention that is facilitated as a routine administrative matter. Be that as it may, advise your client to secure more blankets to address the issue of need to keep him warm. He may even buy a freezer-suit so as to avoid the cold.”

“We advise that he heeds his own advice,” the prosecution states in response to Lt-Gen Kamoli’s application to be released to enable him to seek medical attention.

The prosecution also secured a supporting affidavit from Mr Tšooana to bolster its case.

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