MASERU — Vendors arrested for selling pirated CDs and DVDs during a raid spearheaded by local artists last month have been set free.
It emerged this week that the vendors were released a day after they were rounded up on the streets of Maseru on June 29.
Their lawyer, Advocate Makhetha Motšoari, said his clients were set free after the state prosecutor said there was not enough evidence to warrant trial.
“Prosecutor Mpati ‘Maqolo dismissed my clients pointing out there was no case against them as the evidence was not enough to make the case concrete,” Motšoari told Xpress People.
“They were arrested on June 29 and were taken to court on June 30 but were later released.”
Maqolo in a separate interview said the evidence against the vendors was not enough to forward the case to court.
“The 22 men were allegedly charged with the illegal sale of pirated merchandise but the evidence was not strong enough to stand in court,” she said.
“We advised the police to go back and source more evidence so that a court date would be set.”
Maqolo said the arrested vendors were selling mostly pirated works of South African artists.
“This is a very complicated case because the artists claim the CDs pirated are mainly of the South African artists whilst some CDs entail their production,” she said.
“If they could get an artist or a producer coming forth claiming the copyrights then the court would hear the case.
“I also believe it would be simpler if Interpol was involved as the case involves crime in two countries.”
Local artists last month pounced on street vendors in the capital and seized copies of pirated CDs and DVDs.
The street raid was monitored by the police who took in 22 vendors caught selling counterfeit merchandise.
Twenty artists turned up for the raid, with 14 police officers assisting them.
Mantša, Stlofa, Lomile Maputle, Lele Khesuoe, Sentso, Ramosa Bosiu and Lebohang Letšohla were among the musicians who took to the streets.
Local musicians say piracy is wreaking havoc in the industry, with fake CDs for example going for as little as M10 when an original one costs at least M80.