Mokhosi charged with Khetheng’s murder

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Tefo Tefo

FORMER Defence minister Tšeliso Mokhosi has been charged with murdering Police Constable (PC) Mokalekale Khetheng, as an ongoing investigation that has already netted four police officers widens.

Mr Mokhosi, who is also Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) deputy leader, yesterday briefly appeared before the Magistrate’s Court in Maseru where he was charged with PC Khetheng’s murder and remanded in custody.

Mr Mokhosi handed himself over to the police on Monday morning after the law enforcement agency had repeatedly summoned him to assist with the investigation into PC Khetheng’s disappearance and subsequent murder. The LCD deputy leader had eventually relented after being warned of an imminent arrest.

He is jointly charged with four Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) officers who first appeared before the Magistrate’s Court on 8 August 2017 and have since been remanded in custody.

The four cops are Senior Superintendent Thabo Tšukulu, (51) of ’Malere Matelile Ha Qaba in the Mafeteng district, Senior Inspector Mabitle Matona (39) of Butha-Buthe, Ha Nqabeni, Sub Inspector Haleokoe Taasoane (44) of Liphofung Mokhotlong and Inspector Mothibeli Mofolo (49).

PC Khetheng was reburied last Saturday in his home district of Mokhotlong after the four officers’ arrest and interrogation by a special police investigating team earlier this month yielded information on the whereabouts of his remains.

PC Khetheng’s remains had been exhumed at the Lepereng cemetery in the outskirts of Maseru, which is used to bury unclaimed corpses.

He had last been seen alive while being arrested by his colleagues at a traditional feast in Sebothoane, Leribe on 25 March 2016. PC Khetheng had been arrested and charged on allegations that he torched the house of his superior in Mokhotlong district where he was deployed.

PC Khetheng’s disappearance had prompted his father, Thabo Khetheng, to lodge an application before the High Court on 18 July 2016 for the police authorities to produce him dead or alive.

The case had dragged on for over a year until the appointment of Acting Police Commissioner Holomo Molibeli by Prime Minister Thomas Thabane earlier this month.

Acting Commissioner Molibeli was appointed after Commissioner Molahlehi Letsoepa was given his marching orders by the premier last month. Commissioner Letsoepa is currently finalising his exit terms with the government.

Acting Commissioner Molibeli hit the ground running by establishing the special police investigating team earlier this month. Following the arrests of the four officers, the LMPS had intimated the likelihood of the number of people arrested in connection with PC Khetheng’s murder increasing.

During last Saturday’s funeral ceremony, PC Khetheng’s relative, Mabula Khetheng, claimed the slain cop was killed because of his “bravery” in refusing to carry out instructions to implicate some senior politicians in criminal activities.

He said PC Khetheng may have been forced to drink a chemical substance, had his wrists cut and was burned in the genital region in the gruesome killing.

LCD official, Zele Mpheshea, was arrested last Thursday and released on Monday in connection with the ongoing investigation, with Mr Mokhosi handing himself to the police on the same day,

A visibly flustered Mr Mokhosi appeared before the Magistrate’s Court yesterday, escorted by four plain clothes police officers.

He slowly stood up in the dock as Chief Magistrate ‘Matankiso Nthunya ordered him to stand up as she read the charge to him.

“You are here to be joined to the other four accused persons namely; Thabo Tšukulu, Mabitle Matona, Haleokoe Taasoane and Mothibeli Mofolo,” Chief Magistrate Nthunya said.

“You are charged with the crime of murder in contravention of section 40, subsection one of the Penal Code No. 6 of 2010;

“In that upon or about the 26th day of March, 2016 and at or near Ha-Mokhalinyane in the Maseru district, the said accused acting in consent in furtherance of a common purpose did unlawfully and intentionally perform an unlawful act or omission with the intention of causing the death of Mokalekale Khetheng and the accused did commit the crime of murder.”

She then asked him if he understood the charge.

Replying in a husky voice Mr Mokhosi said: “Yes!”

The chief magistrate told the LCD deputy leader he had a right to get a lawyer to represent him in the case, adding “it should be a lawyer who will always be available to represent you throughout”.

She further said: “You also have a right to apply for bail, but this court does not have powers to hear bail applications in this charge.”

Attorney Qhalehang Letsika then stood up and informed the court that he was Mr Mokhosi’s legal representative.

“I represent the accused and I confirm that I will be always be available whenever this honourable court so directs,” Atty Letsika said.

“I understand this court has no jurisdiction to entertain bail application and I will take up the matter from there.”

Chief Magistrate Nthunya then remanded Mr Mokhosi in custody adding: “Now that you have been joined to the other four accused persons, you will appear again before this court tomorrow (today) on remand because they will be appearing for remand.”

Prosecutor of the case, Senior Crown Counsel Lesaoana Mohale, then told the court that police investigations were still underway regarding the matter.

Meanwhile, High Court judge Justice Molefi Makara will hear a bail application by SSP Tšukulu on Monday next week.

The date was set on Monday by Justice Makara.

This was after SSP Tšukulu’s co-accused police officers withdrew their bail applications on Monday last week.

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