The fifth State witness in the murder case of the late Police Constable Mokalekale Khetheng told the court this week that the late policeman fought for his life as his captors sapped him off the last ounces of his breath.
Detective Lance Sergeant, Bokang Jane (35) who was part of a team that first arrived at the scene whence the murder apparently took place, told the court before Justice Charles Hungwe, that crime scene evidence collected by him and his team reflected a hefty wrestling between Khetheng and those who wanted him dead.
Jane who was at the time stationed at the Ha Mokhalinyane Police Station in rural Maseru as Detective Police Constable, relayed a pictorial recollection of the incidents that unravelled on March 27, 2016 when his colleague who was informed by a villager at Ha Setho that there was a dead body lying by the donga called â€˜ngope la mohlakaâ€™, called to alert him of same.
Led by Lead Prosecutor Advocate Shaun Abrahams, Jane stated that on the day he was with his colleague, one Letsie carrying out duty at a village called TÅ¡oeneng.
â€œI received a call from an officer at the Mokhalinyane Police station alerting me of a corpse of a man near Ha Setho and we quickly went there,â€ he said.
This is the case in which the Leribe Police Station Sub-Inspector Mothibeli Mofolo is accused alongside Deputy Officer Commanding Thabo TÅ¡ukulu, Superintendent Mabitle Matona and Sub-Inspector Haleokoe Taasoane for the murder of the late Khetheng. The accused are represented by advocate Zwelakhe Mda KC and Kabelo Mohau KC.
Khetheng was allegedly murdered on March 25, 2016 after disappearing from the Hlotse Police Station following an arrest in connection to an arson.
Evidence led before the same court earlier had suggested that the late cop who had previously been in the employ of the Hlotse Police post, had been embroiled in a number of arson allegations for houses in various places in the Leribe district including Maputsoe, Sebothoane, TÅ¡ifa-li-Mali and the residence of one Makara who was a District Commanding Officer in Mokhotlong.
According to Phahla TÅ¡osane (53) who was the Leribe Police Station Senior Superintendent, he had been told by one Mofolo that Khetheng died during police interrogation and that they have hidden his body at Ha Mokhalinyane. He said the matter was reported to his senior, Moerane who barred him from prompting any investigations on the matter.
Jane said they found the body lying by the donga about 1.5meters away from a dirty cotton rope.
â€œBehind his feet there was fine sand. Five meters away the place looked like there was a rigorous wrestling, when you walk on fine sand, clear footprints are left but here the sand showed signs of intense fighting as the prints were smudged in the sand.
â€œOn the sand there was a red substance that looked like blood, and a trail which looked like something had been dragged from the sand to where the body was lying, which was about 5meters or less away,â€ he said.
He went to say that after observing the surroundings he had proceeded to inspect and search the body for any evidence, frisking through the pockets of the track pants worn by the corpse but could not find anything.
He said the deceasedâ€™s body reflected signs of a massive fight he may have gotten into before he died.
â€œThere were bruises on the neck and scratches on the knees with deep lacerations on the wrist indicating a severe pressure of rope used to tie him,â€ he said.
He said the swelling on the neck looked as though he had been choked by someone with long nails and was fighting to remove their hands on the neck, hence the scratches.
He indicated that normally when police officers are at a scene, they are supposed to write everything in order to make a report â€œâ€¦but at that time on that day I did not have a paper and pen with me so I used my phone to take pictures which I later handed to sergeant Lesaoana at the Police Headquarters. I still have the phone along with the photos.
â€œAfter that I took the body to a mortuary in Ha â€˜Majane, and went to my office at Ha Mokhailinyane and opened an enquiry file in order to announce the body on the radio, so that perchance family would hear and maybe come forth to identify the bodyâ€ he said.
He said at the time he found the body he didn’t know whose body it was but only found out later as investigations into the matter ensued â€œâ€¦and the case was taken from me by the headquarters where a team was formed to investigate the matter further.
â€œI received a call from Detective Lance Sergeant Nkiane who was an inspector enquiring about the docket, I said it was at the office and they came. Upon their arrival they said I should know that the corpse was that of PC Khetheng,â€ he said.
The case has been shelved to November 14 and 28.