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Mochoboroane charged for treason and murder

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Mohloai Mpesi

Minister of Development Planning Selibe Mochoboroane has been charged with ten counts including treason and murder.

Mochoboroane appeared before the High Court earlier this week to be arraigned in treason case for an alleged attempt to overthrow the then regime of Motsoahae Thomas Thabane and murder of Police Sub Inspector Mokheseng Ramahloko who was shot dead on August 30, 2014 when the armed Lesotho Defence Force members raided the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) headquarters in Maseru and a number of other police stations carrying out what they were calling disarming the police.

The case presided by Chief Justice Sakoane Sakoane had the latter, who was Minister of Communications Science and Technology then charged alongside the former army commander of the LDF Lieutenant General Kennedy Tlali Kamoli (51), Captain Litekanyo Nyakane, Motloheloa Ntsane, Leutsoa Motsieloa, Selibe Mochoboroane while the leader of Lesotho Congress for Democrats (LCD) Mothetjoa Metsing who was supposed to be joined in the matter but failed to avail himself propelling the court to issue a warrant for his arrest.

The accused are suspected inter alia, for aggravated assault, attempted murder, risk of injury or death and attempted murder. According to the indictment that was read to the accused this week, the accused caused the death of Ramahloko by shooting at him with automatic rifle.  

“In that upon or about the period of 29 to 30 August, at or near police headquarters, Pitso ground police station, Mabote police station, the Maseru Central police station, the State House or Ratjomose and or near Makoanyane Barracks and at or near places unknown to the Crown; the accused together with Tefo Hashatsi, now deceased, Bulane Henry Sechele, now deceased, Tumo Lekhooa and persons unknown to the crown in furtherance of a shared common intentions and common purpose did unlawfully endeavoured to overthrow the government of Lesotho.      

It is only Kamoli, Nyakane and Mochoboroane who were charged with all the counts including treason, murder and attempted murder, risk of injury or death on the first alternative of count three, attempted murder on second alternative and aggravated assault and charged for supposedly contravening section 74 (1) read with section 26, 74 (2) as well as 74 (4), section 109 (1) (2) of Penal Code Act of 2010Act number six of 2012.

They charged for “…enabling the disarming of the police deployed at the police headquarters, Pitso Ground police station, Mabote and Maseru Central station by members of the Lesotho Defence Force, enabling the switching off of the radio stations under the control of the Ministry of Communications Science and Technology and Lesotho National Broadcasting Services (LNBS), enabling the prevention of freedom of movement of the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Lesotho, Thomas Motsoahae Thabane with the intention of overthrowing the government of the Kingdom of Lesotho.

“The accused together with Tefo Hashatsi, now deceased, Bulane Henry Sechele, now deceased, Tumo Lekhooa and persons unknown to the crown in furtherance of a shared common intentions and common purpose did unlawfully caused the death of Mokheseng Ramahloko and other members of the LMPS by shooting Ramahloko with an automatic rifle such death resulting from the acts or omissions of the accused.

“The accused with a shared intention or common purposed did attempt to cause the death of Letsekang Mothibeli, risking his death by shooting at him with a firearm,” the indictment read.

The charge sheet continued that the accused attempted to cause the death of police constable Moeketsi by shooting at him on the right elbow with a hand gun, thus, resulting into aggravated assault.

It further details that the accused with a shared intention risked the injury or death of one Sergeant Mohanetse by hitting him with sticks and butt of the gun, trampling on his body with soldier boots, thus causing him serious injuries on the head and body.

“In furtherance of a shared common intention and common purpose, the accused did unlawfully risk the life of Lance Sergeant Thabiso Kopa and Lance Sergeant Thamae by hitting them with sticks and butts of guns on the body and on the head, kicking him with booted shoes, beating him with fists and open hands and causing serious injuries to their forehead, mouth, upper body and ribs,” the charge reads.

In the same indictment, it was said that the alleged murderers kicked police constable Mokete Litulo and other police officers, beating them with butts of guns, kicking them with booted shoes and causing serious injuries.   

However, Mochoboroane could not plead in the matter after Chief Justice raised a point of separation of trial since some of the accused are not being prosecuted in all the ten counts. It was then when the defence counsel by advocate Motia Teele KC stated that he has not been furnished with the remaining 24 statements of docket to prepare his defence.   

“In some of the counts, not all the accused are charged with the same counts. Only accused number one, two and three are charged with treason while all of them are charged with murder. So why do they have to come when the witness testifying will not be testifying against them. is it fair for an accused to sit in a trial and listen to a story that does not include them?” Sakoane asked.

Advocate Shaun Abrahams responded that, it is about 70% of witnesses who will testify on a single crime.

“Having regard to the interest of justice and balance, we found it convenient that all the witnesses testify in a single trial; these counts must not be separated because all the witnesses are to testify in all the counts. There will hardly be prejudice in respect of accused three and four,” he said.

Advocate Teele along with advocate Napo Mafaesa seconded Sakoane, stating that there must be a separation of trials and sought the court to defer the matter until next Monday when they have been served with all the remaining documents. Mafaesa stated that it is only one witness who is going to mention the name of his client (Leutsoa Motsieloa) and that Motsieloa did not shoot.       

“I have not been given about 24 statements; I need the full docket so that I can prepare for the trial.

“The point of separation of trials is important and given the fact that I have not been provided with all the statements, I asked for the court to defer the matter. I was going to ask for a separation of trial but couldn’t because I was not given the remaining dockets,” advocate Teele said.

“When they have given the entire particular we will apply for separation of trial under section 170,” advocate Teele said.

Ultimately Chief Justice Sakoane deferred the matter to next Monday (December 13, 2021) for the Crown to furnish the defence counsels with the remaining dockets. He told the defence counsels to submit all their trial motions so that they get cleared.

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