A South African charged with attempted murder, and conspiracy to commit a robbery has dismissed the accusations as “fabrication”.
France Tšepo ‘Tsoo’ Tsebe on Monday told the Maseru Magistrate’s Court that he neither fired an AK47 rifle at members of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) on 2 December 2013 as alleged by crown witnesses, nor plan to rob a Maseru supermarket on the date in question.
Tsebe told Magistrate Polo Banyane-Pitso that the charges against him were not true, save for one—unlawful possession of a firearm.
The accused was the only arrested suspected member of a six-man gang of robbers after three others were shot and killed by the LDF on the spot, while two fled the country and are believed to be somewhere in South Africa.
However, the 31-year-old Johannesburg-based taxi-operator told the court he was only in Lesotho for business at the time—only to find the vehicle they were travelling in being followed by two white cars whose occupants then started shooting at them.
The accused was denied bail when he first appeared before the court on 18 December 2013.
Reads the charge sheet: “(Count One) Upon or about 2 December 2013 and at or near Domiciliary Clinic Moshoeshoe II, the said accused did unlawfully, with intent to kill, fired a gun at a 4 + 1 taxi driven by Likoebe Maphathe , with ‘Matabolo Mpole as a passenger.
“(Count Two) The said accused did unlawfully and intentionally purchase, acquire or have in possession a 9mm auto pistol loaded with nine rounds of ammunition without a firearms certificate.
“(Count Three) The accused did unlawfully, with intent to kill, fire gunshots at a vehicle occupied by three members of the LDF.
“(Count Four) The said accused did unlawfully and intentionally join and agree with others to carry-out a robbery at U-Save Pitso Ground Maseru.”
Crown counsel Sekoati Hlophe asked the accused: “Do you remember LDF members’ testimony that you were carrying AK47 rifles?”
“Yes, but it’s a lie. It is fabricated. They were the ones with AK47 rifles and not me,” he responded.
Mr Hlope then asked why Tsebe had not submitted this in his evidence.
“You are only asking me now; that is why,” Tsebe told the magistrate.
“Am I right that you don’t deny being in possession of a 9mm firearm that was not licenced in your name?” Mr Hlope further probed.
“Yes you are right; it was found in my possession,” Tsebe reacted.
“So were you properly charged then?” Mr Hlophe further asked.
“I don’t agree. The Investigating Officer should have made a follow-up on the matter to check who the rightful owner was.”
Magistrate Banyane-Pitso postponed the matter to 24 September. Advocate Makhetha Motšoari is representing the accused.