Dec. 12, 2022


3 min read

Court to decide lawyer fate

Court to decide lawyer fate

Defense lawyer, Advocate Lepeli Molapo

Story highlights

    Prosecution argues the lawyer cannot testify in the case he is defending
    Adv Molapo wants to take witness stand to clear his name

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DEFENCE lawyer, Advocate Lepeli Molapo will know on Wednesday this week whether or not he still represents his murder-accused client, Qamo Matela charged with the September 2021 murder of his wife.

This, after Molapo earlier in November, asked the presiding judge, Justice Tšeliso Mokoko to direct a trial within a trial to enable him to take to the witness stand in the same case.

Molapo wants a chance to testify that he was not present when the police recorded a statement from his client that he (Matela) had “confessed” to assaulting his deceased wife ’Mahlompho Matela.

’Mahlompho, born Rethabile Mofolo, died on September 11, 2021, at a Bloemfontein hospital in South Africa after she was allegedly assaulted by her husband.

Molapo was responding to testimony by police Detective Inspector Moeketsi Moeketsi of the Mabote Police, who told the High Court that Molapo was present when Matela confessed to assaulting his wife.

Denying the claim, Molapo showed that a trial within a trial would help exonerate himself.

When the matter was postponed in November, Inspector Moeketsi who was in the witness box told the court that on September 15, 2021, he had received a report about Matela assaulting his wife from ’Mahlompho’s sister, Rorisang Mofolo. 

A short while later, he said, Molapo arrived at the Mabote Police Station and requested him not to dispatch his men to arrest Matela, promising he would personally bring his client to the police station.

Moeketsi told the court that later that day when Molapo brought his client to the station, Matela confessed in his lawyer’s presence to killing his wife.

In response, Molapo took a shot at Moeketsi’s testimony, saying he was implicating him in a matter he did not know of.

He, therefore, contended that testifying in a trial within a trial would enable him to clear his name.

But for his part, the Crown Counsel, Adv Pelea Joala, argued that a trial within a trial could not be separated from the main case.

He said Molapo could not be both a lawyer and witness in the same trial, warning him to decide which he wanted to be.

Matela of Ha Mabote in Maseru has denied killing his wife, ’Mahlompho.

The court has already heard evidence from the accused’s friend, Lekhooa Monaleli, and the deceased's sister, Rorisang Mofolo.

The two witnesses have related to the court the events leading to the deceased's death.

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They both testified that ’Mahlompho told them that her husband had assaulted her days prior to her death.

Evidence before the court shows that ’Mahlompho died on September 11, 2021, after she was brutalised by her “abusive” husband.

After her passing, both the Mofolo and Matela families were engulfed in a bitter legal battle over the right to bury the deceased.
The case attracted a lot of public interest and activism against gender-based violence.

The Mofolo family contended that Matela did not have the right to bury their daughter because he was responsible for her death.

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