THE trial against nine members of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) accused of the alleged assassination of their former commander Maaparankoe Mahao has finally taken off, following a lot of interruptions from within the justice system and other quarters of the society.
June 10, 2021
3 min read
Mahao’s alleged killers finally have their day in court
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The numerous applications filed for whatever reasons coupled with endless postponements of the case have eventually been shelved, maybe for now.
But the case took its time to finally get underway. There is no doubt that the several housekeeping matters that kept the accused in detention for so long and their case out of court frustrated the course of justice in the process.
After Mahao’s execution-style murder, the regional bloc - Southern African Development Community (SADC) had come into the picture to establish the circumstances surrounding the ex-army chief’s killing.
Although the LDF in its defence acknowledged responsibility, it however claimed that the late commander who also faced charges of mutiny was killed resisting arrest.
A lengthy commission led by a Botswana judge later determined that there was no wrong-doing on the part of the slain commander and that his colleagues used excessive force to contain him.
Evidence of several witnesses including other soldiers, members of the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) and members of public led both in camera and open session resulted in the eventually apprehension and formal arraignment of the nine accused, including former army boss, Lt Gen Tlali Kamoli.
The nine currently languish in the Maseru Maximum Prison where they are awaiting trial.
Whether or not the nine accused soldiers are responsible for Mahao’s death is a matter to be determined by the court.
What needs to happen is to ensure that the wheel of justice is given a chance so that the case could be heard to its entirety.
But in the same vein, the accused deserve a fair trial, that is, they should be given a chance to take the witness stand if they so wish and defend themselves.
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The families of the deceased on the other hand are of course dying to see justice being done for their allegedly killed beloved. Justice like the saying goes, must not only be done but manifestly seen to be done.
Over and above that, what should not happen any longer are the untoward disruptions that have incessantly been the order of the day since the trial officially began a while ago.
Our law is clear that one is presumed innocent until the courts of law decide otherwise. In other words, an innocent who has no business behind bars will definitely be too keen to have his day in court so that he could use that chance to clear his name.
The onus is now on the prosecution to prove its case against the accused.