Opposition Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) threatened to pull out of the on-going national reforms programme if its leader and former Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing is brought before the justice system to be tried in a protracted multi-faceted case highlighted at high treason and murder for the August 30, 2014 events.
A warrant of arrest was this week issued against Metsing for his failure to appear before court to be formally read charges against him.
Metsing who was supposed to be merged in the high treason and murder case which has ten counts, went awol on the court, his lawyer Advocate Motiea Teele KC and members of his party when he was nowhere-to-be-found on Monday, leaving Chief Justice Sakoane Sakoane who is presiding over the case to issue out a warrant for his of arrest as a natural course.
Metsing is charged alongside the Minister of Development Planning Selibe Mochoboroane, former army commander Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli who will be spending his fifth Christmas languishing in jail since September 2017, Private Litekanyo Nyakane, Motloheloa Ntsane, Leutsoa Motsieloa, the six are accused for a failed coup d’Ã©tat against the then government of Lesotho led by Prime Minister Motsoahae Thomas Thabane in August 30, 2021.
They are also charged for the killing of Sub Inspector, Mokheseng Ramahloko who was fatally gunned-down the same day by members of the army when they invaded the police headquarters and a number of other local police stations in the capital Maseru and injuring others.
Advocate Teele told the court that to his knowledge, Metsing was coming to court but unfortunately did not show-up without explanation on the day.
â€œI must indicate that the accused number five and six were to appear this morning for the trial to proceed but I see that accused number five is not before court this morning, I had communication with him yesterday and it was my understanding that he will be showing up before court but he hasnâ€™t done so.
â€œPerhaps I can just go back slightly and indicate that he is aware of this date because the judgment that this court delivered concerning their joinder was delivered through me via email and I confirm that I communicated to both of them that by the order of court they are to appear before the court today so he is aware of this date as I was talking to him yesterday. So I am leaving the matter in the hands of the court,â€ he continued.
Lead prosecutor Advocate Shaun Abrahams said it goes without saying that a warrant of arrest be issued to summon Metsing to court.
â€œWe are before His Lordship in pursuit of his judgment and order which was delivered on November 18, 2021. Todayâ€™s proceedings are for the joinder of accused number five and six, in the absence of accused number five, I have no hesitation but to submit to his lordship to release a warrant of arrest for accused number five,â€ Abrahams said.
Chief Justice Sakoane said a bench warrant has to be issued to search for Metsing wherever he might be.
â€œI am informed by counsel for accused number five and six that accused number five is not before court, this is despite he having been previously served with a notice of trial and that notice was accompanied by an indictment, at all material times counsel has appeared on his instructions. Secondly, this court has ordered that both accused are to be arraigned today. The purpose of arraignment is for the accused to appear before court and for the indictment to be read to them and plead thereto baring any objections to their indictment.
â€œIn view of the fact that the court is informed that accused number five without any explanation to counsel is not here and considering the application of the crown that a bench warrant be issued for his arrest, the court in the circumstance orders that a bench warrant be issued and is hereby issued for the arrest of accused number five.
A bench warrant inked by Registrar of High Court and Appeal Court, â€˜Mathato Sekoai on December 7, 2021 directs that the Commissioner of Police is authorised to take Metsing into custody wherever he is seen or found.
â€œWhereas Mothetjoa Metsing, a male adult whose present whereabouts are unknown, is accused number five (5) in an indictment filed in the High Court of Lesotho on November 19, 2020 on accounts of treason, murder etc. and whereas Mothetjoa Metsing was served with a notice of trial and the indictment on February 25, 2020.
â€œAnd whereas the said Mothetjoa Metsing, without any excuse or leave of court absented himself from trial on December 6, 2021. Now therefore, the Commissioner of Police is authorised by this bench warrant to apprehend or arrest the said Mothetjoa Metsing wherever and whenever he is seen or found and bring to court immediately or detain him in custody pending appearance in court if arrested on a weekend or public holiday,â€ the warrant read.
Elsewhere, the irate and fuming LCD members where flocking at the LCD premises addressed by the deputy leader of the party TÅ¡eliso Mokhosi who stated that they stand by a treaty inked between the opposition and Southern African Development Community (SADC) that Metsing and other political figures be spared until the reforms processes is completed.
Mokhosi revealed in a press conference that they trekked to South Africa and sought SADC and Dikgang Mosenekeâ€™s intervention in the matter. He said Metsing is safe but could not reveal where he is.
He mentioned that LCD members have withdrawn from the National Reforms process, influencing many other political parties which he refused to mention, that they must join them to pull out of the ongoing reforms process.
â€œWe took measures to talk to SADC, South African High Commission, civil society organisations, Deputy Prime Minister, Prime Minister and other relevant stakeholders, without despair that all the parties will help us.
â€œThe reforms are still ongoing and the courts had to be reformed so that he can be charged on transformed courts.
â€œWe made a decision to withdraw from the reforms; either Lesotho Reforms Authority (NRA) or parliament of Lesotho, LCD will not take part in those. This is because it is not possible for one to continue participating in the reforms process while attending the cases or even arrest because an inmate does not negotiate,â€ Mokhosi said.
He said they did not write to the Deputy Prime Minister Mathibeli Mokhothu whom they called through a telephone call but he did not pick the call.
Failure to communicate with Mokhothu, he said Metsing called the Prime Minister who promised for a meet up but failed to meet due to his busy schedule but eventually met last Thursday.
Asked where Metsing was and the reasons why he did not avail himself before court, Mokhosi replied thatâ€¦ â€œI cannot reveal where he is but he is safe. In regard to his failure to appear before court we donâ€™t know the reason because we knew that he was going to appear before court and we are surprised,â€ he said.