FORMER army commander, Lieutenant General (Lt-Gen) Tlali Kamoli, has launched a fresh bid to be released on bail pending the finalisation of his trials for various crimes including treason, murder and attempted murder.
The Tuesday bail application by his lawyer, Advocate Moeletsi Mokhathali, is the third Lt-Gen Kamoli has filed since his detention in October 2017. His first application in 2017 was rejected by now retired Judge Teboho Moiloa on grounds that he had failed to prove special circumstances which warranted his release.
He then teamed up with 27 others including soldiers and police officers last month to file another application in the Constitutional Court to be released on bail pending the finalisation of their bid to have their trials permanently stopped. Lt-Gen Kamoli and his co-applicants argued that they had to be released because the state had taken too long to try them. In reality the trials have not taken off due to numerous court applications by Lt-Gen Kamoli and fellow suspects to stop the state from trying them.
Despite that the Constitutional Court is yet to hear his application, Lt-Gen Kamoli on Tuesday filed another application in the High Court for his release on bail.
“May my client be released on bail pending finalisation of his trials,” Adv Mokhathali pleaded with Justice Tshosa.
“He (Lt-Gen Kamoli) has been detained in prison and it has now been three years without this matter even making it to preliminaries. While we are waiting for the constitutional matters to be finalised, he is languishing in prison. The bail application is only intended to secure his right to freedom,” Adv Mokhathali argued.
Justice Tshosa then postponed the matter to tomorrow “in order to map the way forward”. He however, did not say whether he would rule on Lt-Gen Kamoli’s bail application tomorrow.
When he made the application, Lt-Gen Kamoli had been brought to court in connection with the 30 August 2014 murder of police Sub-Inspector Mokheseng Ramahloko. On that day, the army raided several police stations and allegedly killed Sub-Inspector Ramahloko at the police headquarters in Maseru. Lt-Gen Kamoli’s co-accused in the Ramahloko murder are fellow soldiers, Captain Litekanyo Nyakane, Lance Corporal Motloheloa Ntsane and Lance Corporal Leutsoa Motsieloa.
Their trial has failed to take off on several occasions because the crown intends to join politicians, Mothetjoa Metsing and Selibe Mochoboroane to this and a treason case.
It remains to be seen if Messrs Metsing and Mochoboroane will be joined to the cases after they petitioned the Constitutional Court to stop them from being tried for any crimes until after the completion of the multi-sector reforms.
The duo lodged their Constitutional Court application in February this year, arguing that they could not be criminally charged because they were protected by the government and opposition agreement to hold in abeyance their criminal trials pending the completion of the reforms.
Clause 10 of that agreement states that “Mr Metsing and similarly placed persons in exile will not be subjected to any pending criminal proceedings during the dialogue and reforms process”.
The Constitutional Court has previously outlawed this particular clause 10 after the late Police Constable (PC) Mokalekale Khetheng’s father, Thabo Khetheng, petitioned the court to declare it unconstitutional saying self-serving agreements between politicians could not outstrip the constitution. PC Khetheng was killed by fellow police officers on 26 March 2016.
But Messrs Metsing and Mochoboroane petitioned the same court on 25 February 2020 to rescind its 22 November 2018 judgement outlawing Clause 10.
The rescission application was heard to finality on 11 August 2020 and the verdict judgement is pending.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwean Judge Charles Hungwe on Monday postponed the murder trial of four police officers accused of killing PC Khetheng to 7 December 2020 to allow the finalisation of their Constitutional Court application alongside Lt-Gen Kamoli and others for the permanent stay of criminal trials to be finalised.
The four are Thabo Tšukulu, Mothibeli Mofolo, Mabitle Matona and Haleokoe Taasoane.
Justice Hungwe rescheduled their trial to 7 to 11 December 2020.