The fourth witness in the on-going murder trial of Police Constable Mokalekale Khetheng broke down into tears in an emotional testimony as he told the court how he was forced into giving false evidence to save his life.
Police Constable Tumelo Ntoane (42) shed-tears as he told the court on Tuesday that he was forced to into fabricating evidence regarding the death of Police Constable Khetheng who was allegedly slain on March 26, 2016.
He said the Leribe Police Stationâ€™s Sub-Inspector Mothibeli Mofolo who is accused alongside Deputy Commanding Officer Thabo TÅ¡ukulu, Superintendent Mabitle Matona and Sub-Inspector Haleokoe Taasoane told him and Woman Police Constable Mabohlokoa Makotoko to change the version of the story regarding Khethengâ€™s disappearance and untimely death.
A tearful Ntoane told the court that he had to lie at the police Headquarters in Maseru and Teele chambers to save his life and his colleague after being instructed to lie or face death.
â€œWe arrived at the headquarters in Maseru where we found one police officer Tholoana with Superintendent Mputlane. I was instructed with Makotoko to stand outside while Mofolo, Tholoana and Mputlane had a discussion. We were called-in wherein Tholoana asked if we had heard news from TÅ¡ukulu and asked if we agreed with him regarding the story of Haelale. I said I agree with the story but Makotoko did not reply. That version of the story was a lie.
â€œTÅ¡ukulu and Mofolo instructed us to lie and I had a feeling that my life was in danger. What happened to Khetheng was likely to happen to me because for them instructing us to lie meant that they knew what happened to Khetheng. I decided to lie to keep myself alive,â€ he said with a shaky voice.
The shaken Ntoane said they were instructed to say that Khetheng was never arrested but invited to the police station and decided to leave on his own accord.
â€œWe returned to Hlotse where we heard that Khethengâ€™s parents were looking for him and Teele chambers wanted to meet us. Before I went to their chambers, TÅ¡ukulu said I should tell them that the matter is handled by the police and we have our own way of handling it also tell them that Khetheng was not arrested but was only invited to the police station but left on his own if I want to stay alive or work at the LMPS. So I told the same lie,â€ he said.
In his testimony, he testified that on that fateful day, he was instructed alongside his colleague Makotoko to arrest Khetheng. He said after arresting the deceased they were ordered to drive around town with the deceased but they decided not to comply with the instruction because it was abnormal.
He continued that Inspector Mofolo came to the car after parking outside the police station and ordered that Khetheng should not be taken off the car while the two other detainees were taken into the police station.
â€œI packed the vehicle opposite to the butchery, outside the gate of the police station and I saw Inspector Mofolo coming straight to us from the police residences.
â€œInspector Mofolo came and told us to take the two detainees but leave Khetheng in the vehicle, and we did comply. I am the one who unlocked the canopy for the two detainees to come out. The two Women Constable Police; Makotoko and Mputlane took the detainees into the police station along with Inspector Mofolo while I was left locking the canopy of the car,â€ he said adding that Mofolo took the keys of the car and was never seen again nor the vehicle.
â€œI went into the police station to help my fellow colleagues in the CID department and I saw a box of surgical gloves we normally use when we collect the corpses.
â€œThe Toyota Hilux I was driving from Ha Khabo was not there outside and the second accused was nowhere to be seen, while Khetheng was also nowhere to be seen at the police station,â€ he said.
Ntoane said it was rumoured that Khetheng was missing and dead on the following day while Mofolo took the matter lightly when they quizzed him about Khethengâ€™s disappearance after handing him to him. He said Mofolo told them that Khetheng was taken by the soldiers in Maputsoe.
â€œOn the following day I met constable Makotoko and she told me that we had to talk. My car was parked nearby Kopanang Butchery and we went inside my car and began to discuss. It was rumoured that PC Khetheng was dead and missing. Our concern was that we are the ones who arrested him and handed him to Inspector Mofolo,â€ he said.
â€œNow that he was missing, that did not sit well with us and she was very confused, disturbed and worried. We were worried that it would appear as if we killed him.
â€œIt was my first time to hear from Makotoko that Khetheng was missing and probably dead. So we decided to go in the office of CID Commander, Mofolo to enquire about what happened. I personally asked him what happened to PC Khetheng after we handed him to him.
â€œHis answer was that on March 26, 2016 he drove the car which was carrying Khetheng, accompanied by Inspector Matona, Sub Inspector Tasoane to Maputsoe when the soldiers came and took Khetheng from them.
â€œWe were not satisfied with his explanation because we couldnâ€™t understand how the soldiers snatched him or how they handed him to the soldiers. We were not convinced with the reply.
â€œHe was saying all these while looking at his phone; he was saying it in a light manner. Makotoko was very troubled and I tried to calm her down,â€ he said.
The case before Justice Charles Hungwe is set to continue on September 6 to 10 due to the illness of the defence council; Kabelo Mohau and Zwelakhe Mda who were supposed to continue with cross-examination this week.