THE two senior political leaders who face treason charges together with four members of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) will on February 2, know whether or not their trial will be separated from the soldiers’.
Jan. 11, 2023
3 min read
Metsing, Mochoboroane keen to be tried without soldiers
Mothetjoa Metsing and Selibe Mochoboroane
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Mothetjoa Metsing and Selibe Mochoboroane who are also charged with murder, attempted murder and aggravated assault further want the High Court to quash all charges against them.
Before the trial was adjourned for the Christmas holiday, the lawyer representing the two leaders, King’s Counsel (KC) Motiea Teele told the court that his clients ought to be released as charges against them emanated from a legal military order intended to quell a failed 2014 coup.
Metsing who is the former Deputy Prime Minister is also the leader of the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD).
His co-accused, Mochoboroane is the current Minister of Health and the leader of the Movement for Economic Change (MEC).
Mochoboroane is also a partner in the new coalition government led by Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) leader, Sam Matekane.
The two political leaders are charged along with former army commander, Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli, Captain Litekanyo Nyakane, and Lance Corporals Motloheloa Ntsane and Leutsoa Motsieloa for the same crimes.
Both Kamoli and Nyakane have also applied for the withdrawal of charges against them.
Their co-accused, Ntsane, and Motsieloa have applied for separation of trials, arguing that they are being dragged into issues that do not concern them.
They added that they are suffering prejudice as the trial is being delayed because of issues relating to their co-accused.
All the six 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.
In his submission, Teele told the High Court that the accused soldiers were operating within the perimeters of the law as they were participating in a lawful operation.
Charging them, Teele said, was not only unlawful but was also unfair and a violation of their rights.
Advocate Napo Mafaesa who represents Motsieloa and Ntsane argued that his clients had no hand in the attempt to unseat Thabane’s government.
But for his part, Senior Counsel (SC) Shaun Abrahams who prosecutes on behalf of the Crown has opposed the application, saying all the accused had to answer charges levelled against them.
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In a desperate bid to stop their trial, Metsing and Mochoboroane asked the High Court in November 2021 to order the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Advocate Hlalefang Motinyane not to include them in the treason and murder charges.
They argued that they could not be joined to an already existing trial.
But the court on November 18, 2021, shot down their application, saying they had a case to answer.
Metsing and Mochoboroane on November 24, 2021, wrote a letter to the SADC facilitation team to Lesotho - led by retired South African Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke - to take their matter to the SADC leaders to ensure that "decisive and prompt intervention" is made before their expected appearance in court on December 6, 2021.
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 couple of months filed several unsuccessful applications in the High Court meant to stop the DPP from charging them.
The trial continues before Justice ’Maliepollo Makhetha.