FOUR soldiers and two senior political leaders who face treason and murder charges will be together in the dock on May 29 when the High Court finally hears their long-awaited trial.
March 9, 2023
3 min read
Metsing, Mochoboroane, Kamoli treason trial set to commence
Justice 'Maliepollo Makhetha
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This, after the presiding judge, Justice ’Maliepollo Makhetha this week issued a directive for the trial to take off.
Earlier on February 16, Justice Makhetha had shot down a bail application filed by Advocate Lepeli Molapo for the release of his client, Lance Corporal Motloheloa Ntsane, ordering the man to remain in custody until the end of the trial.
The judge also dismissed another application for the separation of trial and annulment of treason, ordering a joint trial to start within six weeks.
She highlighted that the court had assured itself that the Crown has a case against all the accused.
Mothejoa Metsing and Selibe Mochoboroane’s lawyer, King’s Counsel (KC) Motiea Teele had applied for the annulment of charges against his clients.
The accused soldiers include former army commander, Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli, and Captain Litekanyo Nyakane, along with Lance Corporals Ntsane and Leutsoa Motsieloa.
They are charged together with the Minister of Health, Mochoboroane and former Deputy Prime Minister Metsing.
Mochoboroane is also the leader of the Movement of Economic Change (MEC) and a partner in the current coalition government led by Prime Minister Ntsokoane Matekane.
Metsing is the Leader of the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD).
The two leaders are out on bail.
All the accused face charges relating to an attempted coup against the government of former Prime Minister Motsoahae Thabane on August 30, 2014.
The murder charge emanates from the murder of police Sub-Inspector Mokheseng Ramahloko, which occurred during the night of the attempted coup when soldiers under Kamoli’s command raided police stations in Maseru, including the police headquarters.
The operation, evidence in court shows was intended to disarm police officers loyal to Thabane.
The Crown counsel, Senior Counsel (SC) Shaun Abrahams revealed during a pre-trial conference this week that when the matter was first ceased before Chief Justice Sakoane Sakoane, the state was served a consolidated list of expert and factual witnesses amounting to 91.
“We do not intent on calling all witnesses but it largely depends on what admissions will be made by the defence on behalf of their clients,” Abrahams noted.
He confirmed that the Crown had submitted all the evidence that it intends to rely on.
For his part, one of the defence counsel, Advocate Letuka Molati confirmed the long list of witnesses, adding, however, that the defence is yet to decide whether or not to accept the submitted evidence.
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He said looking at the manner of the proceedings, they might spend months coming to court just to sit down because a certain issue being deliberated on would not affect an accused person and his lawyer.
Advocates Kabelo Letuka, Lepeli Molapo, Napo Mafaesa, and KC Teele also agreed that it is not easy for them to submit as the crown could not be specific as to which witnesses were not going to be called in.
Teele noted that the 91 witnesses were far too many, and that would drag the case for years to come.
The defence, he said, is ready to deal with the matter as it is, adding he has about five witnesses for each of his clients.
Abrahams said the Crown is not willing to use all the 91 witnesses to prove its case, adding that the list will be cut-down depending on the defence’s list of witnesses.
In a desperate bid to stop their trial, Metsing and Mochoboroane asked the High Court in November 2021 to stop the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Adv Hlalefang Motinyane not to include them in the treason charges.
They argued that they could not be joined to an already existing trial.
The court however on November 18 2021 shot down their application, saying they had a case to answer.
They further threatened that failure to stop their trial would leave them with no other choice but to withdraw their participation in the ongoing multi-sector reforms processes.
The two political leaders have over the past months filled several applications in the High Court in a bid to stop the DPP from charging them.
The matter is expected to proceed from May 29 – June 15.