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Witness explains why Mahao murder trial is delayed

Former army boss the late Lt Gen Maaparankoe Mahao

March 29, 2021 3 min read

3 min read

THE Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Relations Tanki Mothae has told the High Court that SADC has not yet responded to the government’s request for a piece of evidence required in the murder trial of former army boss Lieutenant General Maaparankoe Mahao.

Mothae appeared in court on Monday after he was subpoenaed in order to explain the whereabouts of the requested record.

Mahao was allegedly killed execution style by fellow soldiers on June 25, 2016 in Ha Leketa, Maseru on his way from his home village Mokema.

After his murder, SADC set up a commission of inquiry headed by Justice Mphaphi Phumaphe of Botswana to establish the circumstances surrounding the killing.

Nine soldiers including Mahao’s successor Lt Gen Tlali Kamoli are accused of the murder.

The others include Motsamai Fako, Motshoane Machae, Tsítso Ramoholi, Litekanyo Nyakane, Haleo Makara, Lekhooa Moepi, Marasi 'Moleli and Mohlalefi Seitlheko.

They face multiple charges including attempted murder, theft, obstruction of justice, damage to property, aggravated assault and risk of injury or death.
After the trial commenced, the defence requested a transcribed record of proceedings of the SADC commission which has still not been submitted.
In his testimony, Mothae on Monday told the court that the SADC facilitation team has shown that the record will be released when the on-going National Reforms process has been complete, as releasing it now might jeopardise the process.

After his testimony, the prosecution spearheaded by Senior Counsel Shaun Abrahams of South Africa asked for a date of trial, adding that the case cannot be delayed any further.

SC Abrahams argued that the request for the record is an afterthought as it was made months after the accused had already pleaded.

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He submitted that the rule of law must proceed and administration of justice be seen to be done.
But the defense still insisted that it needed the record to prepare for the case.

Advocate Napo Mafaesa argued that the accused have a right to facilities that will help them prepare for the trial.

He said there is no harm in postponing the matter until the record is made available, adding that continuing with the case without the record would be an ambush.

The other defence lawyers including Adv Letuka Molati and Adv Kabelo Letuka also contended that they could not defend their clients in the absence of the record.
Justice Charles Hungwe is expected to give a ruling on Tuesday on the arguments made.

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