FUGITIVE treason and murder-accused politician, Mothetjoa Metsing, has petitioned the High Court to cancel the warrant for his arrest.
The warrant was issued by Chief Justice Sakoane Sakoane on 6 December 2021. This after the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) leader failed to appear before him to be formally charged alongside former army commander, Tlali Kamoli and others.
He is believed to have fled to South Africa to escape trial.
His co-accused are Kamoli, Development Planning Minister Selibe Mochoboroane, army officers Captain Litekanyo Nyakane, Lance Corporals Motloheloa Ntsane and Leutsoa Motsieloa for illegally trying to topple then Prime Minister Thomas Thabane in 2014.
The charges are in connection with the 30 August 2014 attempted coup against the first government of former Prime Minister Thomas Thabane.
Messrs Metsing and Mochoboroane are accused number five and six respectively. Mr Metsing has not appeared in court as he fled the country in December 2021. This prompted Justice Sakoane to issue a warrant for his arrest that same month.
However, Mr Metsing, whose whereabouts are remain unknown, now wants the arrest warrant to be cancelled.
He also wants to be granted bail if he returns.
“This application seeks two related reliefs,” Mr Metsing states in his 22 June 2022 court application filed on his behalf by his lawyer, Motiea Teele.
“The first relief is the prayer for cancellation of the warrant of arrest issued by the Honourable Chief Justice Sakoane authorising my arrest for failure to appear before the court on the 6th of December 2021. The second relief is a prayer that I be admitted to bail on such terms and conditions that the court may deem appropriate,” Mr Metsing further states.
He says the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Hlalefang Motinyane, had in January 2018 sought to join him to the treason and murder case alongside Kamoli and others.
He argues that this was not lawful because it contravened the 2018 SADC-backed government-opposition agreement not to proceed with all “politically motivated trials” until after the implementation of the multi-sector reforms recommended by SADC in 2016 as part of efforts to achieve lasting peace and stability in Lesotho.
He said when he was eventually joined to the trial along with Mr Mochoboroane, he did not to attend the 6 December 2021 court proceedings because his life was in danger. He does not say who was planning to kill him.
“I was not only unprepared to return to Lesotho but I was fearful that should I do so I would be murdered, a risk I was not willing to take.
“The fear for my life and the decision to turn to SADC for assistance became the cause of my non-appearance on the date on which I was supposed to have been joined in the court proceedings. But as the expression says, ‘it is better to be a live dog than a dead lion’. I was not doing this with any intention to bring the reputation of the court into disrepute,” Mr Metsing states.
Another reason why he absconded is that he feared being thrown into remand prison. He says before the chief justice ordered that he should appear in court, he had received credible information that the DPP was determined to seek his incarceration.
“Before the Chief Justice made an order that I should appear to be joined I had received credible information that the DPP was determined to seek my incarceration. On the date on which we were to appear in court, an application would be made for the recusal of the Chief Justice on the basis that being a citizen of Lesotho, he was not supposed to preside over the case because these were preserved for foreign judges.
“While the matter for recusal was pending, Minister Mochoboroane and I would be sent to prison and the Chief Justice’s hand would be tied so that he could not decide on our liberation. I was informed that the Crown had intended to drag out the issue of recusal while we were in prison until national elections are held in October 2022,” Mr Metsing states.
He says that some politicians in government had expressed a desire that he should be incarcerated.
“They (politicians) made it known to the public over radio stations that they had nothing against Minister Mochoboroane and it is me they wanted. Some politicians made public statements in which they unashamedly declared that they wanted me dead. I wish to specifically refer to the speech of the former Prime Minister Thabane who had during a political rally told his political supporters that whatever they meet me they should kill me,” Mr Metsing states.