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Accused scorn court-appointed lawyer

The first accused Senior Superintendent Thabo Tšukulu

April 28, 2021 3 min read

3 min read

THE four police officers who are accused of the murder of Police Constable Mokalekale Khetheng do not approve of the new lawyer appointed by the State to represent them after their own lawyer ditched them.

Instead, the accused policemen want to be represented by King’s Counsel Zwelakhe Mda who has however, not been to court for a while, due to ill health.

The Registrar of the High Court this week appointed Advocate Thulo Hoeane to represent the accused on pro deo basis after their former lawyer KC Karabo Mohau dumped them because the state had failed to pay their legal fees.

A frustrated Hoeane told the court on Tuesday that the accused were being difficult and refused to cooperate with him.

He said during consultation with the accused, only Senior Superintendent Thabo Tšukulu said he was aware that the registrar was in the process of finding a new legal representative for him after Mohau walked out on him.
But the presiding judge, Justice Charles Hungwe said the right to legal representation is not absolute, hence the prosecution has the right to prosecute an unrepresented accused.

He warned the accused that Hoeane was in court as a lawyer appointed by the court and will remain as such until further notice.

The judge was quick to add that if the accused were not happy with Hoeane’s services, they were free to represent themselves.

“Advocate Hoeane will remain in court when the matter proceeds until there are new developments,” he further warned the accused.

After KC Mohau ditched the accused last week Friday, Senior Counsel Shaun Abrahams who appears for the Crown had shown that he was unaware of the development, accusing the defence of unprofessional conduct.

But he had quickly noted that another lawyer would soon be appointed to replace Mohau in order for the trial to continue.
All accused have pleaded not guilty to the murder and the case was postponed to this week to give the court time to get another lawyer.   

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Tšukulu is charged along with three other policemen including Mabitle Matona, Mothibeli Mofolo and Haleokoe Taasoane for the murder of Khetheng on March 26, 2016.

They are also charged alongside former Minister of Defence Tšeliso Mokhosi, former Police Commissioner Molahlehi Letsoepa and Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police Tšeliso Moerane for the murder.

The accused also face charges of perjury and defeating ends of justice.

PC Khetheng went missing after he was arrested by his colleagues at a traditional feast in his home village of Sebothoane, Leribe on March 25, 2016.

His body was subsequently exhumed in August 2017 at a mass grave at the Lepereng cemetery on the outskirts of Maseru.

The long awaited trial is expected to proceed from May 5-7 and May 18-25.

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