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Judge accuses lawyers of manipulating court system

The Mohale Dam

March 29, 2021 3 min read

3 min read

THE judge presiding over the trial of the 10 soldiers accused of strangling three men and dumping their bodies in the Mohale Dam has taken a swipe at the defence lawyers who have threatened to withdraw from the case, accusing them of manipulating the court system.

Dr Onkemetse Tshosa also accused the lawyers of delaying the case by applying for unexplained postponements on several occasions.

The judge who is from Botswana therefore last week ordered that in spite of the fact the defence’s preparedness appears to be shoddy, the accused should however have their day in court soon.  

Dr Tshosa made the order for the trial to continue based on the Speedy Court Trials Act.

Prior to that, the prosecution had pronounced its readiness to proceed with the matter. For its part the defence had argued that it still had a few loose ends to tie up.

Dr Tshosa said the case was postponed on a number of occasions when it was before another judge, adding that on some instances, the defence lawyers simply to failed to make an appearance without explaining why.

The trial he said took another twist when the same lawyers jointly announced their intention to withdraw from the case if their clients’ demands were not met.

This he further showed was in spite of the fact that other lawyers including King’s Counsel Karabo Mohau and Attorney Qhalehang Letsika still continued to show up in court.

He said the lawyers’ threat to drop the case was but a manipulation of the court system on their part.
He said the lawyers even rejected the court’s offer to afford the accused legal representation and Pro Deo services as per the Constitution of Lesotho.

In their earlier submission, the defence lawyers had suggested that investigations be made to establish why some of the accused were not being represented.

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They had also informed the court that they did not have statements of all witnesses involved in the case.

Considering the gravity of the charges against their clients and the possible heavy punishment that would be carried in the event they were convicted, the lawyers questioned the readiness to proceed with the trial.

But the prosecution insisted the defence was delaying the matter deliberately, adding that there was nothing legal preventing the trial from commencing.
The court is yet to make a ruling on the arguments made before the accused are formally charged and asked to plead.

The accused include Brigadier Rapele Mphaki, Major Pitso Ramoepana, Captain Mahlehle Moeletsi, Sergeant Lekhooa Moepi, Lance Corporal Mahlomola Makhoali along with Privates Nthatakane Motanyane, Motšoane Machai, Liphapang Sefako, Nemase Faso and Tieho Tikiso.
They are alleged to have on May 16, 2017 killed Lekhoele Noko, Khothatso Makibinyane and Molise Pakela by strangling them at the military base in Setibing, on the outskirts of Maseru.

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