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Net closes in on Ntsie

Nat Molomo MASERU — The long arm of the law is about to catch up with Habofanoe Ntsie, the cameraman who fled the country in March while being sentenced for double murder.
Lesotho authorities believe the 54-year-old is holed up in South Africa.
South African police are already looking for Ntsie following a request for his provisional arrest by Lesotho’s prosecution authorities.

The application for his provisional arrest has already been filed with the International Police (Interpol) section of the South African Police Service. The provisional arrest allows Interpol to secure him before he can flee to another country which Lesotho does not have an extradition treaty. The Sunday Express has been told that the Lesotho government is on the verge of writing to the South African government to request Ntsie’s extradition.
The Lesotho High Court has already convicted Ntsie for the murder of Souru Masupha and Habaka Mahao in November 2004 but has not sentenced him.

Under the extradition treaty between the two countries Lesotho’s law minister will have to write to the South Africa’s justice minister informing him of the reasons why Ntsie is supposed to be extradited. The Sunday Express was this week told that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has already started working on the extradition case against the controversial cameraman. “The South African police have been alerted and plans for extradition are afoot,” said the official in the DPP.

The official said “it is just a matter of time before Ntsie is behind bars”. Ntsie disappeared from the court on March 26 when Justice ’Maseforo Mahase was about to finish reading her judgment. His wife claimed that he had been rushed to hospital in Bloemfontein, South Africa. Justice Mahase’s immediate reaction was to issue a warrant of arrest for him and order his wife to come to court on March 30 to explain her husband’s whereabouts.
A few days later his lawyer Haae Phoofolo, who is now the Minister of Justice, informed the court he had received a doctors’ letter indicating that Ntsie was indeed ill and needed two weeks to recover. But when Ntsie’s wife failed to come to court as ordered, Justice Mahase issued a warrant of arrest for her too.

The case was then postponed to April 25 but when it resumed Ntsie was nowhere to be seen. At that time Phoofolo said it was his responsibility and that of the police to make sure that Ntsie is arrested. At the request of the crown, Justice Mahase then completed reading the judgment and ruled that Ntsie was guilty of two counts of murder. She however did not pronounce her sentence. The extradition of Ntsie back to Lesotho might take weeks or months depending on how he will object. But officials in the DPP believe this is one of the easiest extradition cases they have.

“There is a judgment. Although the man has not yet been sentenced he has been convicted of two murders. He is a confirmed fugitive,” the DPP official said. “How can he possibly win against such clear evidence?” Ntsie is facing a possible death sentence or life in prison.
Lesotho is one of the Southern African Development Community countries which still apply capital punishment on murder cases. However, judges have been reluctant to send murder convicts to the gallows. Capital punishment was last applied in 1994. Once extradited, Ntsie will also have to face trial for jumping bail.

That means more trouble for the controversial cameraman who once claimed to have information on who killed former Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s son, Maile, in 2002.
Maile’s murder has never been solved. Ntsie has had a brush with the law in the past.
In April 2010 he faced trial for alleged reckless and negligent driving. The court heard that Ntsie hit a car belonging to National Security Services agent, Sekake Mohale and fled the accident scene before the police arrived.
During his murder trial Ntsie claimed that he killed Masupha and Mahao in self-defence, an explanation that Justice Mahase branded as false.

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