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Scott back in the dock

 

Lekhetho Ntsukunyane

The trial of double murder suspect, Lehlohonolo Scott, who is fighting deportation to Lesotho resumes on Thursday this week before the Durban North Magistrate’s Court.

Magistrate Vanitha Armu indefinitely postponed the case on 5 November last year after Scott’s new lawyer, Nkanyiso Maphumulo, requested the court to provide him with records of how his client was denied bail in May 2014.

Advocate Maphumulo, who took over from Shameer Goolabjith, told the court he needed the records to familiarise himself with the case.

However, on 7 November 2014, Advocate Maphumulo met with the prosecution team before Magistrate Armu and agreed that the case should resume on 29 January 2015.

Scott (29) is accused of brutally killing and mutilating fellow Koalabata residents Moholobela Seetsa (13) and Kamohelo Mohata (22), in 2012 for ritual purposes.

After being arrested alongside his mother, ’Malehlohonolo, who is his co-accused in the alleged murders, Scott escaped from the high-security Maseru Central Prison on 14 October 2012, as he awaited trial.

After the police had failed to re-arrest Scott who had fled to South Africa after his jailbreak, ’Malehlohonolo was released on M500 bail under stringent conditions in August 2013.

’Malehlohonolo (59) had been directed by the court to report at the nearest police station every Friday.

However, the High Court relaxed the bail conditions on 18 November 2014, and ordered her to make the police report once every two weeks.

The High Court has since postponed ’Malehlohonolo’s case to 9 March 2015, but according to her lawyer, Thulo Hoeane, the trial would only proceed on that date if Scott, as the First Accused, would have been extradited to Lesotho.

“But if, by that time, he has not been extradited, that date will only be used for mention,” said Advocate Hoeane.

Meanwhile, in addition to murder, Scott would also be charged with escaping from lawful custody.

After his arrest by the South African police in Durban on 6 April 2014, Scott claimed he was not a Lesotho citizen but a South African, hence he could not be extradited. Since then, he has appeared in the Durban North Magistrate’s Court several times for his extradition hearing, and is being held at Durban’s Westville Prison pending the finalisation of the hearing.

Advocate Goolabjith, who quit the case shortly after failing to secure bail for Scott in May last year, had argued that the court had no power to deny his client bail as he faced no charges in South Africa.

The lawyer also argued the prosecution had not challenged the authenticity of a South African birth certificate Scott had provided showing that he was born in that country.

But the now-retired prosecutor, Blackie Swart, had counter-argued that when Scott was arrested, he was found in possession of a “fraudulently obtained” South African identity document.

Mr Swart further said Scott’s declaration that he had only lived in Lesotho since 1999 had clearly been refuted by a letter from his primary school in Maseru, which showed he attended the institution from 1996.

Magistrate Armu then shot down the bail-application, arguing there was a “very strong” case against Scott.

 

 

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