THE trial of four police officers accused of the March 2016 murder of Police Constable (PC) Mokalekale Khetheng has been postponed again to 30 January 2023.
The trial was supposed to have proceeded on Monday but this was not to be after one of the prosecutors, Motene Rafoneke, informed Judge Tšeliso Mokoko that the defence lawyer, Kabelo Letuka, had another case before Chief Justice Sakoane Sakoane. He did not say what that case was about. He further said the defence and prosecution had agreed that the matter be postponed to 30 January 2023.
Justice Mokoko, who was standing in for Judge Charles Hungwe, had no choice but to postpone the matter to January. The postponement is the latest in the growing list of deferred high profile trials of politicians, serving and former members of the security agencies. Most of the postponements have been done because the pro deo defence lawyers are holding out for payment of their fees by the cash-strapped judiciary. In addition, the judiciary has indicated that it has no money to transport witnesses to court sessions. As reported by this publication last week, victims of impunity and human rights are unhappy with the postponements, saying they have been denied justice and closure for a long time. They have called on new Prime Minister Sam Matekane to avail funds to the judiciary to end the stand-off between the institution and pro deo lawyers.
PC Khetheng was last seen alive while being arrested by his colleagues at a traditional feast in Sebothoane, Leribe, on 25 March 2016.
He had been arrested on allegations that he had torched the house of his superior in Mokhotlong district where he was deployed.
The Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) had at the time argued that PC Khetheng had left the Hlotse Police Station without permission and they did not know where he was. For its part, the Khetheng family argued that the police should know where he was because they had arrested him.
PC Khetheng’s remains were eventually exhumed at Lepereng Cemetery in the Maseru district on 11 August 2017. This after the police were granted a court order by the Maseru Magistrates’ Court in the wake of investigations into his disappearance and suspected murder.
Former Hlotse Police Station Commander, Senior Superintendent Thabo Tšukulu, was subsequently arrested and charged with PC Khetheng’s murder. He was charged alongside Superintendent Mathibeli Mofolo, Inspector Mabitle Matona and PC Haleokoe Taasoane.