A senior police officer who was implicated in the murder of Police Constable (PC) Mokalekale Khetheng says he was ordered by former Police Commissioner Molahlehi Letsoepa to arrest and kill the slain policeman.
Feb. 23, 2023
4 min read
Witness claims he was ordered to kill Khetheng
Former Police Commissioner Molahlehi Letsoepa
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Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police (SACP) Tšeliso Moerane was this week testifying in the long-drawn-out murder trial in the High Court as a Crown witness.
Led by Senior Counsel Shaun Abrahams who is prosecuting on behalf of the state, Moerane said Letsoepa’s stern orders came after Khetheng was fingered and later apprehended for allegedly torching his commanding officer’s home in Mokhotlong where he was stationed.
Senior Superintendent (Snr Supt) Thabo Tšukulu is charged along with his three subordinates; Senior Inspector Mabitle Matona, Sub Inspector Haleokoe Taasoane, and Inspector Mothibeli Mofolo for Khetheng’s murder on May 26, 2016.
The four who were arrested on August 4, 2016, and hauled before the Maseru Magistrate’s Court four days later were remanded in custody.
They were later denied bail by the High Court.
Moerane told the court this week that at the time, he was the Northern Regional Commissioner of Police, holding the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP).
“I received a report from the Mokhotlong police commander who informed me that his house had been burned down and that there was an attempt to torch another house belonging to his deputy.”
He added: “I called the police headquarters in Maseru to inform my seniors, and shortly afterward, I received a call from Commissioner Letsoepa instructing me to go to Mokhotlong in order to assess the situation there.”
Upon his arrival in Mokhotlong, the court heard how Moerane learned from the district police commander, Snr Supt Makara that they had already arrested Khetheng for the arson.
By then, he said Khetheng had already been hauled before the Mokhotlong Magistrate’s Court where he was remanded in custody.
But he was later released on bail.
A disciplinary hearing was thereafter held and it was recommended that Khetheng be fired, the court was told.
After the Mokhotlong case, there were other arson cases reported in Leribe where the Pitso House in Hlotse and a guesthouse in Sebothoane were burned to the ground.
In Butha-Buthe, the Usave supermarket and a clothing store were also torched.
Moerane told the court that in all the cases, there were no known suspects.
“I received another call from Commissioner Letsoepa instructing me to arrest Khetheng as he had burnt all the said buildings.”
Around the same time, he said, he was appointed the acting Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police (SACP).
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“A few days later, I received a phone call from the officer who had taken over my duties as the regional commissioner, indicating that Khetheng’s parents had reported him missing at the Hlotse Police Station. That was when I realised that something had happened to him and I reported the matter to Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Monaheng and Commissioner Letsoepa,” the court heard.
In August 2018, Moerane was arrested by Superintendent Mokete and PC Nkiane who were investigating Khetheng’s murder.
Moerane said during his interrogation, the investigators asked him why he had killed Khetheng, an accusation that he denied.
He was detained for the night and the following morning, he was taken to the Maseru Magistrate’s Court where he was released without being charged.
He was thereafter suspended pending the investigations that followed until he was finally reinstated in 2019.
Khetheng was last seen alive at the time of his arrest by his colleagues at a traditional feast in his home village of Sebothoane on March 25, 2016.
The trial continues today (Friday) before Justice Charles Hungwe.