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Soldier found guilty of rebellion

Keiso Mohloboli

LESOTHO Defence Force (LDF) Staff Sergeant Mpolokeng Moleleki-Letlotlo was on Thursday found guilty of rebellion and insubordination in connection with a statement that she uttered to the effect that the slain former army commander, Lieutenant General Khoantle Motšomotšo, deserved to die.

She could be jailed for two years for the offence.

SSgt Moleleki-Letlotlo was found guilty by the Court Martial and she will be sentenced this week after the court has considered her mitigation plea which will be submitted by her lawyer, Advocate Zwelakhe Mda (King’s Counsel).

According to the evidence that was led in court, the 39-year old staff sergeant uttered the: “O shoele hantle Motšomotšo (which loosely translates to Motšomotšo deserved to die).

Lt Gen Motšomotšo was fatally shot by his subordinates, the late Brigadier Bulane Sechele and Lieutenant Colonel Tefo Hashatsi, at his Ha Ratjomose Barracks office on 5 September 2017. Col Hashatsi was the commander of the Special Forces while Brig Sechele was the legal adviser and chief prosecutor of the army.

SSgt Moleleki-Letlotlo uttered the statement at the army’s switchboard office at Makoanyane Barracks in Maseru immediately after the assassination of Lt-Gen Motšomotšo.

She has been awaiting trial on open arrest since 14 December 2017.

Lt Gen Motšomotšo was allegedly accused of “selling out” soldiers loyal to former army commander, Lt-Gen Tlali Kamoli to the police and Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s administration before his assassination on 5 September 2017.

In the Court Martial at Makoanyane Barracks on Thursday, the Court President, Lieutenant Colonel Ramoriting, found SSgt Moleleki-Letlotlo guilty of contravening section 79 of the Lesotho Defence Force Act of 1996. The conviction was made on the advice of Judge Advocate Lt Col Mathatjane.

“What happened on the 5th of September 2017 is highly emotive and I would therefore advise the honourable court to find the accused guilty as charged,” Lt Col Mathatjane said. SSgt Moleleki-Letlotlo’s statement was found to be rebellious and showing insubordination.

President Lt Col Ramoriting delivered the guilty verdict in the aftermath a 30-minute adjournment of proceedings which was made to give the court an opportunity to deliberate on the evidence that had been submitted to the court.

“This honourable court has taken advice of the Judge Advocate and found the accused guilty as charged,” Lt Col Ramoriting ruled.

However, Adv Mda (KC) pleaded with the court to be given more time to prepare for mitigation on behalf of SSgt Moleleki-Letlotlo.

“The court should accord enough time to prepare adequately for mitigation because it is an important stage and a determining factor of someone’s sentence,” Adv Mda KC said.

Lt Col Ramoriting granted Adv Mda KC’s request, saying: “the date for sentence is set to be between the 19th and 20th July 2018”.

Section 79 of the LDF Act states that “any person subject to this Act who is guilty of any act, conduct or neglect to the prejudice of good order and military discipline commits an offence and shall, on conviction, be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years”.

 

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