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Murder suspect claims he confessed under duress

Nat Molomo

MASERU — High Court acting judge, Justice Teboho Moiloa, on Friday reserved judgment in a case in which a murder suspect claims he confessed under duress.
The ruling will be delivered on December 12.
The court held a trial-within-a-trial after Phamotse Mohlaoli challenged the confession he allegedly made before then Maseru resident magistrate Tseliso Bale.
Mohlaoli, together with Tlali Tsunyane, who is now late, are facing three counts of murder.
They are accused of killing Soulo Nkonyana, Mamorakane Nkonyane and ‘Makhunoane Molapo on April 28, 2005.
They are facing a further two counts of contravening section 3 (1) of the Internal Security (Arms and Ammunitions) Act N0.17 of 1966 read with section 8 of the Internal Security (Amendment) Act No. 4 of 1999.
The offences took place at Semonkong Ha Seng in Maseru district.
The crown also says the accused did “unlawfully and intentionally purchase, acquire or have in possession a .45 Griffon pistol s/n RSA 61190 without a firearm certificate in force at the time”.
Before postponing his ruling, Justice Moiloa heard evidence from Bale.
Bale, who is now resident magistrate in Teyateyaneng, said Mohlaoli appeared before him in 2005 before describing to the court the procedures that are followed when one makes a confession.
He said it is standard procedure that when someone comes to court to make a confession “we insist that the clerks of court should be the ones who bring such a person before a magistrate without a policeman”.
He said the suspect is reassured about his safety.
“I examine his facial and bodily appearance and determine his physical appearance,” Bale said, adding they also insist on knowing who influence him to make the confession.
“I then inform him that a confession is made at the insistence of the person who wants to do it, not the police. I also tell him that if there is anything wrong that has been done, it is the duty of the police to investigate it,” he said.
“I also inform him that it is not the duty of such a person to help the police with the investigation.”
He said if the person insists that he still wants to make the confession it is his duty to tell him that whatever he says in the confession might be used against him.
“Up to this stage I would not have written anything down, and I enquire from such a person whether he still wants to make the confession given the detrimental effect it may have on his trial,” he said.
He said he also asks the person if he had been tortured.
If at that point the person insists that he wants to confess, he then records the person’s details.
It was at this point that Advocate Monaheng Rasekoai, Mohlaoli’s lawyer objected to the contents of the confession being read saying this would influence the court reach an adverse verdict for his client.
“The impact of it is that is going to be prejudicial to my client,” he said.
Rasekoai said the defence is going to argue that the confession was made under duress.
However Advocate Lechesa Mahao asked how the court could be asked to make a determination on something which it had not seen.
The ruling was postponed to December 12.

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