MASERU — A calm and collected Rethabile Mphahama sat in the witness box of Court 4 at the High Court, words flowing from his mouth.
It was as if he had prepared notes for his testimony.
At one stage even Justice Tšeliso Monapathi told the translator, who was clearly struggling to keep pace with Mphahama, to tell him to slow down.
So composed and articulate was he that one would have been forgiven for thinking that he was just another impressive witness in the box.
Yet Mphahama was on trial for murder.
And he was narrating how he had shot and killed police superintendent Tanki Bulane after he caught him in a compromising position with his wife, ‘Mamolemo Mphahama, at a local lodge on January 10 last year.
Mphahama, who is pleading self-defence, took the court through the graphic details of how he burst into the room where Bulane and ‘Mamolemo were booked.
Mphahama, a retired army officer cum high school teacher, told the court that for years he had regarded Bulane as a friend because they stayed together at the Police Training College’s staff compound in Maseru where they were neighbours.
Mphahama was staying there with his wife ‘Mamolemo, a police officer.
He told the court that on the fateful day Bulane had actually waved at them as he drove past their house.
Soon after, Mphahama claimed, ‘Mamolemo had asked him to help her cook because she wanted to rush to their rural home in Mazenod.
After the meal Mphahama had driven his wife to the bus station where she took a taxi to Mazenod while he proceeded to ‘Mabathoana High School, his workplace.
He said before he could get to the school he decided to get some drinks at a bottle store called Max, which is close to ‘Mabathoana High School.
He claims that on arrival he found that the bottle store was full of “unfamiliar faces” and he decided to call his friend who told him that he was at Ha Ts’osane.
The drama started unfolding as he drove to see his friend in Ha Ts’osane.
He said as he drove past a place called Bohlasoeng he saw a woman who looked like his wife disembarking from a taxi.
He said he hooted but “she did not stop or respond to the hooter”.
Curious, he parked his car and decided to follow her.
“She entered a gate of a place I now know to be a guest house. I called her at the door but she did not look at me. I assumed she had not heard me. I took out my phone and called her but she did not respond,” he narrated.
He said moments later he entered the guest house to be greeted by a sight that shocked him.
“She (‘Mamolemo) was not wearing a top bra. She was wearing a pair of shorts which were unzipped and the man (Bulane) was lying on the bed,” Mphahama told the court.
He said ‘Mamolemo was sitting on top of Bulane with the zipper open.
On the headboard was ‘Mamolemo’s 9mm Vector SP1, he said.
Mphahama said he exclaimed: “Hey man, is that you?”
To which Bulane responded by saying “Morena” (sir).
He alleged that by that time Bulane was advancing towards him.
There was a scuffle.
“He was naked and I was startled when after the door closed after a scuffle, he pulled me back into the house (room),” he added.
“He overpowered me and I hit the cupboard. I think my wife was still in the room and as I fell I grabbed his hand.”
Mphahama said Bulane pushed and kicked him using a knee and he hit the wall and fell next to a cupboard.
After that, Mphahama explained, Bulane was holding a plank advancing towards him.
He said he stood up and grabbed his wife’s gun.
Bulane was very close and used the broken plank he was holding to hit him, alleged Mphahama.
“I then pressed (the trigger) and started shooting,” he said.
Mphahama told the court he could not remember where he shot, except that his wife grabbed the gun saying: “Look you have killed someone.”
His wife, then fully dressed, advised him that they leave the guest house immediately, he added.
Mphahama said he felt so hurt by Bulane and his wife’s tryst.