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DPP appeals Mokete’s acquittal

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…says top cop should not have been acquitted off sexual assault charge

 Mohloai Mpesi

The Director for Public Prosecution (DPP) Hlalefang Motinyane has filed an appeal against Magistrate Peter Murenzi’s judgment of the acquittal of Deputy Commissioner of Police Paseka Mokete on a sexual assault case.      

This Wednesday Motinyane filed a notice of appeal at the High Court lamenting that Magistrate Murenzi misdirected himself by discharging Mokete who was accused of sexually assaulting Lesotho Police Staff Association (LEPOSA) Deputy Secretary General Policewoman Inspector Makatleho Mphetho on May 30, 2021.     

Murenzi handed down his judgment almost a year later on May 12, 2022 after the prosecution that was led by advocate Motene Rafoneke exhausted its entire five witnesses in the matter, where he indicated that the prosecution had presented shallow evidence, not convincing enough to have Mokete convicted.

The Magistrate said in his verdict that none of the witnesses had testified to the use of force except the complainant who later went to see a doctor whose testimony also did not establish the use of force. He said the admitted statements of the two eyewitnesses were tainted during the complainant’s cross-examination rendering not to be of much use for the crown’s case.

Mphetho accused Mokete of sexually harassing and manhandling her by touching her buttocks last year May at the National Assembly, tearing her trouser belt-loop while she was trying to free herself from the powerful clutch of the defendant.

Mokete’s legal representative, advocate Monaheng Rasekoai presented an application of discharge for his client in April.

Rasekoai told the court while motivating his discharge application that there was no element of intent to commit the crime on his client’s part.

He said there was absolutely no intention by his client to touch the buttocks of Mphetho and that he is not a sexual predator who would stop at nothing, leaving his opulent office and go to the National Assembly premises targeting the buttocks of the complainant and whether the litigant is a cunning vindictive woman who would stop at nothing but to have his client’s name mudded.

His submissions impelled Murenzi to draw a conclusion that the defendant had no case to answer.

“With regard to malicious damage to property, it is alleged that the trousers worn by the complainant were torn as a result of the altercation between her and the accused, although after the mishap, she resumed with her work as usual and concealed it to the onlookers and when the parliament adjourned she went to the police to report the incident,” Murenzi said in the verdict.

The judgment proved dissatisfactory to the DPP who filed the appeal this week citing that “…the learned Magistrate erred and misdirected himself and came to a wrong conclusion in holding that the evidence advanced by the crown is not sufficient to secure a conviction when it is confronted with clear evidence that the complainant’s buttocks were touched, that the complainant’s trousers were torn and that force was applied upon the person of the complainant, all of which required the accused person to be to be put to his defence.”

Motinyane further said the Magistrate blundered when he concluded that the undisputed statements of the eye witnesses regarding the unlawful application of force are merely implications not to be relied upon even though the witnesses are clear that they saw the accused chasing and grabbing the complainant by the clothes.

She continued that Murenzi made a wrong conclusion in failing to invoke strict liability in circumstances where it was necessary to do so it ought to be held that the accused committed the offence he was charged with in seeking to achieve his purpose of retrieving his letter from the complainant.

“The learned Magistrate erred and misdirected himself and came to a wrong conclusion in failing to find fault which encompasses culpa on the part of the accused person in respect of all the offences he stood charged of (sic).

“The learned Magistrate erred and misdirected himself and came to a wrong conclusion in holding that the failure by the complainant to talk to the eyewitnesses about what happened meant that the crimes were not committed.

“The learned Magistrate erred and misdirected himself and came to a wrong conclusion in holding that the complainant could not have walked around with ripped trousers when it is clear that the belt-loop and the pocket button were the ones that were torn and could not preclude the complainant from walking around with.

“The learned Magistrate erred and misdirected himself and came to a wrong conclusion in holding that the exhibit was handed to the police after a long time,” the appeal reads.

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