Mochoboroane faces sedition charge

 

Keiso Mohloboli

FORMER Communications, Science and Technology Minister, Selibe Mochoboroane, has been summoned to appear before the Maseru Magistrate’s Court next week charged with sedition and making statements “calculated to violate the dignity or injure the reputation of the Royal Family”.

Mr Mochoboroane (37), who is the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) deputy spokesperson, was served with  court summons on Tuesday and is accused of committing the crimes through statements he allegedly made on a local radio station on 8 September 2014.

According to the charge sheet, Mr Mochoboroane — who was fired as Communications, Science and Technology minister last month by Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, but has since refused to vacate the post — contravened various sections of the Penal Code Act no 6 of 2010.

Reads the charge sheet: “Selibe Mochoboroane, a male adult aged 37 of Matheko Posholi, Lerotholi Seeiso at Malumeng in the district of Mafeteng and presently working at the Ministry of Communications, is charged with the crime of contravening Section 79 (1) and (2) of the Penal Code Act no 6 of 2010…

“In that upon or about 8 September 2014 and at or near MoAfrika FM Radio Station at Carlton Centre Building in the district of Maseru, the said accused did unlawfully, intentionally and or knowingly commit an act calculated to violate the dignity or injure the reputation of the Royal family by uttering words to wit, ‘leha re se re tlohela ho e sheba mahlong a molao ke bona mona Tona-Kholo a elelitse Motlotlehi ho tlola molao a re o sebelisa molao’ (The prime minister advised His Majesty King Letsie III to break the law, while at the same time, the prime minister was pretending to uphold the law).”

Alternatively, Mr Mochoboroane is charged with sedition by contravening Section 76 (2) (b) read with sub-sections (1) & (5) (a) (b) (c) (d) & (e) of the Penal Code Act No 6 of 2010.

The full sedition charge reads: “…In that upon or about September 8, 2014 and at or near MoAfrika FM Radio Station at Carlton Centre Building in the district of Maseru, the said accused unlawfully and with the intention of defying or subverting the authority of the Government of Lesotho, but without the intention to overthrow or coerce the Government of Lesotho, did utter seditious words to wit… ‘leha se re tlohela ho e sheba mahlong a molao ke bona mona Tona-Kholo a elelitse Motlotlehi ho tlola molao are o sebelisa molao’ to bring into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection against the person of His Majesty or the Government of Lesotho…or to incite the people and residents of Lesotho…and/or to bring into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection against the administration of justice in Lesotho…or to cause discontent or disaffection against the administration of justice in Lesotho…and/or to promote feelings of ill-will and hostility between different classes of the population of Lesotho.”

Mr Mochoboroane said he was not going to comment on the issue “since the case will be before the court on the 18th of November”.

“You can get the details of the case then,” said Mr Mochoboroane, when contacted by the Lesotho Times last night.

However, LCD Acting Secretary General, Tšeliso Mokhosi, said Mr Mochoboroane’s summons had come as a shock to the party, which formed a coalition government with the All Basotho Convention (ABC) and Basotho National Party (BNP) in June 2012.

Mr Mokhosi further said ABC leader, Dr Thabane, is continuing to breach the Windhoek and Pretoria declarations he signed in July and September this year respectively, to find a lasting solution to the country’s present political instability, which had prompted fresh election in February 2015, two years ahead of schedule.

“The Deputy Prime Minister (Mothetjoa Metsing) was not consulted even on this issue and the court summons come as a blow when we are all now focusing on next February’s snap election,” Mr Mokhosi said.

“It is unfortunate there is still tension between the coalition government partners, and it is very shocking that Ntate Thabane is charging Mr Mochoboroane about a statement passed on radio.

“Mr Mochoboroane did not insult either the prime minister or His Majesty King Letsie III but because Ntate Thabane wants to fight his political battles, he twisted what Mr Mochoboroane said to suit his interests.”

Mr Mokhosi further said that  what Mr Mochoboroane meant to say in his radio statement was that Dr Thabane had  taken  advantage of his powers to mislead the King and did not follow the appropriate procedures in removing Lesotho Defence Force commander, Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli from office on 28 August 2014.

Mr Mokhosi, who is also  energy, meteorology and water affairs minister, said the LCD had hoped that  there would be no more “disturbing incidents” in the run-up to the February 2015 election and all parties would now focus on implementing all the deals brokered by official SADC mediator, Cyril Ramaphosa.

“It is most likely that the next government is going to be a coalition, and we were expecting to bring closure to all the disputes we have had and all the bitterness, and work towards reconciliation so that we can go for elections peacefully,” said Mr Mokhosi, suggesting that all parties should try to foster good relations just in case they have to work together in another coalition after the February polls.

Mr Mochoboroane was fired by Dr  Thabane last month but the LCD deputy spokesperson has refused to vacate his ministerial office prompting court action by the Prime Minister (see Page 4).

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