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Nthontho arrested for alleged perjury



Billy Ntaote

PROMINENT lawyer, Advocate Khotso Nthontho, was on Friday arrested for perjury allegedly committed while representing detained soldiers accused of mutiny.

However, Advocate Nthontho was released from police custody on the same day near midnight following an urgent High Court application for his release by his wife, ‘Mathato, and 10 lawyers, namely Advocates Haae Phoofolo (King’s Council), Lerato Makholela, Advocate B.M.R. Masiphole Masiphole, Tumisang Mosotho, Shale Shale, Christopher Lephuthing, Monaheng Rasekoai, Kuili Ndebele, Nonny Da Silva-Manyokole and ‘Mole Kumalo.

The Sunday Express understands that Advocate Nthontho was initially arrested at the Criminal Investigation Division headquarters at Pitso Ground in Maseru and taken to a police station near the Mejametalana Air Wing base which is popularly known as the Robbery and Car Theft Squad Unit.

While the lawyer was not formally charged during the arrest, he speculated to the Sunday Express that the perjury allegations could have emanated from his representing the mutiny suspects detained at Maseru Maximum Security Prison between May and June last year.

bombingHowever, Justice Semapo Peete ordered Advocate Nthontho’s “immediate release without delay” following the application.

The Court Order issued by Justice Peete for Advocate Nthontho’s release reads: “Having heard viva-voce (oral rather than written) evidence of ‘Mathato Nthontho and Attorney Mosotho, it is ordered that Khotso Joseph Nthontho presently being held in police custody by agents of the Lesotho Mounted Police Service be released forthwith from the airfield police station or from any other police station by any agent on duty at the relevant time of presentation of this order.

“The said Khotso Joseph Nthontho must be released to his wife ‘Mathato Nthontho.

“All the necessary and formal papers pertinent to this matter must be served on Monday February 15, 2016. This order must be obeyed and complied with immediately without delay.”

The officer commanding the police station, referred to as “V.T.D.” and “C.R.C.U”, is cited in the court order as the first respondent, while the Commissioner of Police and the Attorney-General Tšokolo Makhethe are cited as the second and the third respondents.

Advocate Nthontho’s arrest attracted a lot of attention with a large number of opposition parties’ supporters picketing the police station, and demanding to know the reasons for his detention.

The crowd then blocked the entrance to the police station while chanting and singing songs demanding the lawyer’s release.

As the crowd grew larger, and the singing continued, soldiers from the nearby Mejametalana Air Wing base armed with rifles came to the police station to inquire about the commotion. The soldiers then ordered the protestors to remove their cars, some of which were parked near the Mejametalana Air Wing base fence.

Also among the crowd were officers of the High Court and members of civil society organisations.

. . . as top lawyer’s house is attacked

Billy Ntaote

ADVOCATE Khotso Nthontho’s Masowe 1 house was on Friday night attacked by unknown assailants who pummelled the dwelling with stones and also smashed his BMW vehicle.

The attack coincided with the lawyer’s arrest on allegations of perjury ostensibly while representing detained soldiers accused of mutiny. Advocate Nthontho is among the lawyers representing Lesotho Defence Force members accused of hatching a mutiny plot against the army command.

He was released from police custody on the same day following an urgent High Court application for his release by his wife, ‘Mathato, and 10 lawyers.

When the Sunday Express crew arrived at the house, onlookers were assessing the extent of the damage to the solicitor’s property. Advocate Nthontho no longer stays at the house and rents the property out.

Almost all the house’s windows had been broken by stones that seemed to have emanated from a nearby gravel road under construction.

Advocate lawyer’s father, Raphael Nthontho, told the Sunday Express the damage to his son’s property ranged from broken windows, a broken sliding door and the smashed window and mirror of his BMW.

Mr Nthontho said the assailants were determined to inflict “maximum” damage to his son’s property.

“This is the work of people hell-bent on inflicting maximum damage to my son’s property, and it coincided with his arrest,” Mr Nthontho said.

“This is surely connected to his representing the mutiny-accused soldiers.”

Neighbours who insisted on anonymity for fear of reprisals said they heard glasses breaking at the lawyer’s house at around 11:30 pm.

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