…as Crown accuses top cop of tampering with docket of his sexual assault trial
THERE were angry exchanges between the prosecution and lawyers representing Deputy Commissioner of Police, Paseka Mokete, in his sexual assault trial on Thursday.
This after the prosecutor, Motene Rafoneke, accused DCP Mokete and his two lawyers, Attorneys Kuili Ndebele and Monaheng Rasekoai, of tempering with the docket and fraudulently obtaining information from it before it had even been filed in court.
Advocate Rafoneke made the allegations while he was leading the evidence of the second witness, Inspector Lebeoana Matekane.
DCP Mokete stands accused of sexually harassing his subordinate, Inspector ‘Makatleho Mphetho, on 30 April 2020 by touching her buttocks without her consent, breaking her trousers buttons and manhandling her. This allegedly happened when DCP Mokete had gone to serve her with his letter renouncing his membership of the Lesotho Police Staff Association (LEPOSA). Inspector Mphetho is the deputy secretary general of LEPOSA.
DCP Mokete’s trial is before Senior Resident Magistrate Peter Murenzi.
When the trial got underway on Thursday, Mr Ndebele objected to the submission of an LMPS 12 document recorded by Inspector Matekane as part of the evidence against DCP Mokete. An LMPS 12 is a document which is filled in by a police officer when a case is reported to the police. It contains the details of an alleged crime as reported by the complainant to the police.
Inspector Matekane had testified that he opened a docket on behalf of Inspector Mphetho on 30 April 2020 when she came to Maseru Central Police Station to lay a sexual assault complaint against DCP Mokete. Inspector Matekane then recorded the case in an LMPS 12 document.
He said Inspector Mphetho had alleged that DCP Mokete pulled her by the trousers while she was on duty on that day at the parliament building. Inspector Matekane said he had observed that Inspector Mphetho’s trousers had a broken button at the back and another button had been ripped off the trousers.
Adv Rafoneke then attempted to submit an LMPS 12 document containing Inspector Matekane’s testimony. However, Mr Ndebele objected on the grounds that LMPS 12 which Adv Rafoneke presented was different from the one which they had allegedly been given by the previous prosecutor in the same matter. The case was initially handled by a different prosecutor and magistrate earlier this year.
It is not clear who the initial prosecutor was but the initial magistrate was Senekal Qobolo who resigned in May this year. Hence the case was reassigned to Magistrate Murenzi.
Mr Ndebele’s argument was premised on the fact the ‘LMPS 12’ they had in their possession on Thursday did not have a case number, police stamp, the clerk of court’s minutes and stamp. It only contained what Inspector Matekane had allegedly recorded. It was different from the one that was presented by Adv Rafoneke which contained all these things.
Mr Ndebele then alleged that they were seeing Adv Rafoneke’s version of the LMPS 12 for the first time and therefore the prosecution had “cooked” it as an afterthought in order to catch his client unawares.
This provoked an angry response from Adv Rafoneke who denied any knowledge of the LMPS 12 version that Messrs Ndebele and Rasekoai had brought to court. He accused the two lawyers and their client of fraudulently accessing the docket before investigations had been completed.
“I insist that I did not give them that document,” an irate Adv Rafoneke said.
“Anything is possible when it comes to the accused given the calibre of lawyers he has. They can fraudulently acquire documents. Clearly, they had this document before we even got hold of it. They must have stolen it from the docket before it was brought to the clerk of court. This is not the first time they have done this. We were shocked in the past when they produced the police’s occurrence book when we had not served them with it,” added Adv Rafoneke.
This did not go down well with the defence lawyers. Mr Rasekoai immediately stood up and demanded that Adv Rafoneke should withdraw his statement.
“We can’t just ignore these allegations that are being levelled against us. I insist that he withdraws his statement, failing which he should report us to the police or the Law Society of Lesotho so we can defend ourselves,” Mr Rasekoai said.
But instead of withdrawing his statement, Adv Rafoneke insisted on serving them with the ‘correct’ LMPS 12. The defence lawyers would have none of it and the angry exchanges continued until Magistrate Murenzi intervened.
He said the issue should have been addressed at the pre-trial conference.
Mr Ndebele eventually accepted the document from Adv Rafoneke.
Inspector Mphetho is the first witness in her own case. She also took the stand on Thursday and accused DCP Mokete of threating LEPOSA executive members and their families with death.
She claimed that a day before her alleged sexual assault, DCP Mokete had posted on Facebook using the moniker, Teboho Molelle. She said he had threatened the LEPOSA executive with death for challenging the 2018 police promotions which had been made by Police Commissioner Holomo Molibeli.
The Teboho Molelle Facebook post of 29 April 2020 warn LEPOSA executive members to be careful and to also watch out for their families’ safety. The shadowy Molelle character states that he had worked hard to be promoted and he warns LEPOSA members that they cannot just wake up and challenge the promotions.
During the previous court proceedings on 29 October 2021, Inspector Mphetho had had alleged that, “Teboho Molelle is Paseka Mokete”.
“It is not a coincidence that the Facebook post was done the day before he attacked me. I also reported the Molelle posts to the Maseru Central Police Station,” Inspector Mphetho had said.
During the Thursday session, Mr Ndebele argued that DCP Mokete was not the shadowy Facebook character. He said there was no way his client could have been aggrieved by LEPOSA’s 2018 decision to challenge the police promotions because he had not been promoted then. Nor was he the one who had made the promotions. Therefore, he could not be Teboho Molelle, Mr Ndebele argued.
However, Inspector Mphetho insisted that DCP Mokete was responsible for the Molelle Facebook posts. She said even if he had not been promoted or made promotions himself, he could have recommended some of the promotions to Commissioner Molibeli. LEPOSA believes that Commissioner Molibeli and DCP Mokete are close allies. It has waged a long war to get them fired for alleged incompetence.
Magistrate Murenzi then postponed the trial to 15 December 2021. On that day, Inspector Matekane will take the stand and give evidence.