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Witness maintains soldier ordered killing of 3 civilians

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Mohloai Mpesi

The state witness in a case where ten soldiers are accused of killing three civilians in 2017 has maintained that Brigadier Rapele Mphaki ordered the carnage of the victims whose bodies were recovered in the Mohale Dam.

The matter continued this week before Justice Moroke Mokhesi.

The eighth witness, Major Tsietsi Monyeke, who is third in command of the Military Intelligence Unit was cross-examined by Advocate Letuka Molati this week.

Molati represents Mphaki in the matter.

Monyeke maintained that Mphaki made an order that the three civilians, Lekhoele Noko, Khothatso Makibinyane and Molise Pakela, be killed.

Mphaki is being tried jointly with Major Pitso Ramoepana, Lekhooa Moepi, Mahlele Moeletsi, Mahlomola Makhoali, Nthathakane Motanyane, Motsoane Machai, Liphapang Sefako, Nemase Faso and Tieho Tikiso.

The accused are charged for allegedly strangling Noko, Makibinyane and Pakela and allegedly throwing their lifeless bodies in the Mohale Dam on May 16, 2017.

The trio was allegedly embroiled in the killing of one soldier and a street vendor, Private Seliane and Moiketsi Makhabane respectively, in May 2017 at the Maseru border gate. Another soldier was injured.

While giving his chief evidence in the High Court in February this year, Major Monyeke said he has been a soldier for 33 years and told the court that he was assigned to investigate the killing of Private Seliane.

He said he received a call from Major Ramoepana telling him that Brigadier Mphaki would like to meet them in the Military Intelligence offices at the Ministry of Defence.

The meeting, he said, was attended by Mphaki, the late Lieutenant General Khoantle MotÅ¡omotÅ¡o, Ramoepana, Makara and Moeletsi.                                                                                 

He said it was in this meeting where Mphaki furiously stated that he could not tolerate “famo hooligans”. Noko, Makibinyane and Pakela were said to be famo gangsters.

“At the meeting, Mphaki said he will not tolerate that soldiers under his command be killed by the famo hooligans. He asked our opinions one by one and they all agreed with him.

“When he asked for my opinion I indicated that in as much as these famo boys are nonsense, but based on the preliminary investigations we conducted, and the agreement we reached with LMPS, we found that the suspects were not connected to the shooting and I said I have no objection in their release,” he said.

Advocate Molati put it to Major Monyeke this week that if he knew that an unlawful act was about to be committed, he was obliged to report it to the relevant authorities.

Molati said Monyeke did not report the matter because that meeting never happened in the first place.

“But you didn’t report at the time you were given a directive to eliminate the suspects,” he said.

“Yes it’s true,” Monyeke replied.

Molati continued: “I put it to you that you never discussed how anybody should be killed. It is because there was never a meeting where you discussed with other seniors that the suspects should be killed.”

“There was such a meeting and a directive from Brigadier Mphaki that those suspects should be eliminated,” Monyeke maintained.

Molati stressed that Monyeke was not telling the court truth but the latter maintained that he was telling truth.

Asked by Molati if he killed the deceased, played any role in their killing or planned how they would meet their demise, Monyeke said that would be determined by the court.

He admitted that he was not present when the deceased were killed.

“The deceased persons were not killed by the first accused (Mphaki), what is your reaction?” Molati asked.

“I can say yes my Lord,” Monyeke responded.

The matter is continuing before Justice Mokhesi where other lawyers for the accused including advocate Napo Mafaesa, Advocate Karabo Mohau KC and Attorney Qhalehang Letsika are taking turns to cross-examine Monyeke.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

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