ZIMBABWEAN judge, Justice Charles Hungwe, on Friday remanded the case of murder-accused former minister of Defence and National Security, Tšeliso Mokhosi and former commissioner of police, Molahlehi Letsoepa, to 22 February 2019.
Justice Hungwe ordered that on 22 February “a pre-trial conference should be held to prepare for the commencement of the full trial”.
Messrs Mokhosi and Letsoepa stand accused of murdering Police Constable (PC) Mokalekale Khetheng in 2016.
They were charged along with four other police officers, namely, Senior Superintendent Thabo Tšukulu, Superintendent Mothibeli Mofolo, Inspector Mabitle Matona and Police Constable Haleokoe Taasoane who are all currently on suspension from the police service.
All the accused, except for Mr Letsoepa, who remains in exile in South Africa, attended the Friday court session. Mr Letsoepa is at large after he skipped the country in August 2017 soon after he was sent on forced leave by Prime Minister Thomas Thabane.
Justice Hungwe told the accused, “Your case is being remanded to February 22 for a pre-trial conference to prepare for the commencement of the full trial”.
Prior to the postponement of the case, the prosecutor, Advocate ‘Naki Nku, told Justice Hungwe that Mr “Letsoepa is still at large”. Adv Nku further said the prosecution had agreed with the defence that the case should be postponed to 22 February for a pre-trial conference.
PC Khetheng was last seen alive while being arrested by his colleagues at a traditional feast in Sebothoane in Leribe on 25 March 2016.
PC Khetheng had been arrested and charged on allegations that he torched the house of his superior in Mokhotlong district where he was deployed.
He was allegedly last seen with Inspector Mofolo, PC Ntoane, PC ‘Mabohlokoa Makotoko and Senior Inspector Matona.
The LMPS had argued that PC Khetheng had left the Hlotse police station without permission and they did not know where he was. For its part, the Khetheng family argued that the police should know where he was because they arrested him.
PC Khetheng’s body was exhumed at Lepereng Cemetery in the Maseru district on 11 August 2017 after the police were granted a court order by the Magistrate’s Court in light of the investigations into his disappearance and suspected murder.
The PC Khetheng murder case was one of the first of the high-profile cases involving politicians and members of the security agencies to be heard after the arrival and swearing-in Justice Hungwe on 15 January.
Justice Hungwe was sworn in by the Acting Chief Justice, ‘Maseforo Mahase.
He is the first to arrive in the country ahead of four other foreign judges who will try the cases involving politicians and members of the security agencies which have been deemed by the government to be politically sensitive.
He has also presided over two other cases including that of eight soldiers who stand accused of murdering army commander, Lieutenant General Maaparankoe Mahao on 25 June 2015.
The eight soldiers are Captain Litekanyo Nyakane, Captain Haleo Makara, Sergeant Lekhooa Moepi, Sergeant Motsamai Fako, Corporal Marasi ‘Moleli, Corporal Motšoane Machai, Corporal Mohlalefi Seitlheko and Corporal Tšitso Ramoholi. Justice Hungwe postponed their case to 1 April this year.
Justice Hungwe also presided over another case in which five soldiers, namely, Captain Litekanyo Nyakane, Lance Corporal Khauhelo Makoae, Lance Corporal Sebilo Sebilo, Privates T?epo Tlakeli and Thebe T?epe are alleged to have murdered Thabang Mosole, Monyane Matsie and Pakiso Ntala Letatabe in Ha Motanyane in Mafeteng in 2012.
Justice Hungwe postponed the case to 19 February 2019 for a pre-trial conference which will in turn determine the date for the commencement of the trial.