. . . says politicians’ kid-gloved treatment is a mockery of justice
FORMER army commander, Tlali Kamoli, has accused the judiciary of bringing the country’s criminal justice system into disrepute by allegedly affording former Prime Minister Thomas Thabane and current cabinet minister Selibe Mochoboroane “special treatment”.
Kamoli makes the allegations in his Court of Appeal papers filed in opposition to the Director of Public Prosecutions, Hlalefang Motinyane’s application for the rescission of Chief Justice Sakoane Sakoane’s January 2022 judgment wherein he refused to recuse himself from presiding over Kamoli, Mr Mochoboroane and others’ treason and murder trial.
They have been charged alongside former Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing, Captain Litekanyo Nyakane, Lance Corporal Motloheloa Ntsane and Lance Corporal Leutsoa Motsieloa. Mr Metsing is not part of the proceedings as he fled the country in December 2021 avoiding to stand trial.
Kamoli and the other suspects have been languishing in remand prison since 2017 for this and other suspected crimes. However, Mr Mochoboroane, who was joined to the trial along with the fugitive Metsing in December 2021, has not been arrested.
He has been standing trial via summons.
Mr Thabane and his wife, ‘Maesaiah Thabane, have been charged with the 14 June 2017 murder of the former premier’s ex-wife, Lipolelo Thabane.
‘Maesaiah was last year detained in custody before being granted bail in July 2020 by the now deceased High Court judge, Thamsanqa Nomngcongo.
Mr Thabane has never been arrested. Nor has he been formally charged. He appeared at the High Court for a pre-trial interview on 30 November 2021 where he was told that he would be joined to the case and asked to plead when the murder trial begins on 8 March 2022. But on that date, Judge Molefi Makara said he could not proceed with the trial because the defence had not been furnished with witness statements. They will reappear before Justice Makara today.
The fact that Messrs Thabane and Mochoboroane were not arrested and remanded in custody pending their applications for bail has not gone down well with Kamoli who believes he has been unfairly treated after being thrown in remand prison back in 2017.
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In his appeal court papers, Kamoli argues that just like him, Messrs Thabane and Mochoboroane should have been arraigned before a magistrate’s court, remanded in custody before they could apply for bail in the High Court like any other murder-accused person.
He accuses DPP Motinyane of giving the two politicians special treatment. Not only is this “kid-gloved treatment” a mockery of justice, it has also set a bad precedence in the criminal justice system, Kamoli argues.
“In the case of Rex v. Thomas Thabane, he (Thabane) appeared before the Assistant Registrar of the High Court (Tebello Mokhoema) and was read the charge,” Lt-Gen Kamoli states in his court papers.
“He then went back to his home and his trial still continues. What a mockery of Justice! What a differential kid-gloves treatment. It follows that with a bad precedent set, the sixth respondent (Mochoboroane) appeared for the first time before the judge of the High Court from his own home. He was joined to the proceedings. At the end of the day he went back to his home.
“The trial continues for the present and we are on appeal. All is fine and proper with the Crown. The worst judicial history is being written.
“The well-known criminal law procedure in Lesotho in murder cases is that an accused appears before a Magistrates’ Court, then read a charge of murder, remanded into custody and then applies for bail in the High Court subsequently,” Kamoli argues.
DPP Motinyane’s appeal was heard last week by the apex court bench comprising of Justices Johanne Van Der Westhuizen from South Africa and the Zimbabwean duo of Moses Chinhengo and Tapfuma Mtshiya. They reserved judgment to 12 May 2022.