MASERU — The two suspects in the Koalabata ritual murder case were last week further remanded in custody for a further 14 days as the prosecution gathers evidence against them.
Senior resident magistrate ’Makampong Mokhoro agreed to prosecutor Boloka Tshabalala’s request to extend their stay in jail during their second appearance in court on Thursday.
The suspects, ’Malehlohonolo Scott, 54, and her son Lehlohonolo Scott appeared for the first time in court on Wednesday last week where charges levelled against them for the alleged murder of Kamohelo Mohata around July 12 and Moholobela Seetsa in January were read to them.
They were arrested on July 12 after the police found body parts suspected to be Kamohelo Mohata’s in their possession at their home in Koalabata.
Some body organs were pulled out of a local primary school toilet and a nearby donga by the police, who were led by Lehlohonolo.
After agreeing to postpone the case for 14 days, Mokhoro told the media and members of the public who had filled the courtroom to capacity that the courts do not delay cases.
In what appeared to be a courtroom public lecture on the procedures followed in criminal cases before the proceedings came to finality, she expressed concern over media reports that courts delay cases.
“The court does not have a case, the case belongs to the prosecutor and police investigating the case,” Mokhoro said, adding that without the prosecutor and the investigating officer, there is nothing that the court can do.
“The prosecutor is the watchdog, he is the one who sees when magistrates misdirect themselves,” Mokhoro said.
She highlighted that as judicial officers they do not have a platform on which to react against allegations concerning them, hence, she took this opportunity to explain the procedures followed before a case comes to court and other processes involving things like bail, the rights of the accused, plea, verdict and sentence.
The magistrate stated that in the course of their work courts have to strike a balance between the interests of society and that of the accused concerned in order to come to a fair trial.
The magistrate made it clear that murder is not tried at the magistrate’s court, but at the High Court even though the accused may first appear and be remanded at a magistrate’s court.
She said matters of bail will be determined by the High Court.
The magistrate said many cases are brought to court on the pretence that investigations have been completed only for the courts to be informed that the docket is back with the investigator for further investigations.
She observed that in some cases the delays would be caused when the prosecutor dies or is transferred.
“The process is initiated by the prosecutor not the court,” she said.
Mokhoro said the prosecutor is the master of the case.
“He or she should have an interest in the matter and with the assistance of the investigator they should have the accused summoned and witnesses subpoenaed, without them the court is powerless,” Mokhoro said.
Tshabalala informed the court investigations in the Koalabata murder case are almost complete.
“What is left is that exhibits are still under forensic examination,” Tshabalala said.
“After this the docket of the case will be sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions for decision.”
The case was remanded to August 9, on which date the prosecution believes the two accused will be committed to the High Court for trial.
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