IT never rains but pours for former army commander, Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli.
Not only is the army commander set to spend a third Christmas in remand prison over a plethora of murder and attempted murder charges, he will be slapped with more charges in connection with the attempted coup of 30 August 2014 which resulted in the murder of Police Sub-inspector, Mokheseng Ramahloko.
Lt-Gen Kamoli’s murder trial, along with three others, in connection with the 30 August 2014 killing of Sub-inspector Ramahloko was supposed to kick off on Tuesday but Botswana judge, Justice Onkemetse Tshosa, postponed the case to 4 to 14 February 2020 and 9 to 20 March 2020.
This after the chief prosecutor, Advocate Shaun Abrahams, asked for the postponement to enable the state to add more charges as well as charge more suspects. However, Adv Abrahams did not say what the new charges would be or name the new suspects who would also be charged alongside Lt-Gen Kamoli and his co-accused, Captain Litekanyo Nyakane, Lance Corporal Motloheloa Ntsane and Lance Corporal Leutsoa Motsieloa.
“The accused, acting in concert with others committed serious offences on the day in question (30 August 2014) and the police had been investigating the cases separately,” Adv Abrahams told the court.
“During last week’s consultations, we found it fit not to separate the cases and further directed the police to take supplementary statements from the witnesses I had already interviewed and further obtain additional statements from new witnesses. The police docket for the second case is currently being translated and will be ready before end of this week.
“In the interest of justice and fairness, it is necessary for the crown to add more charges and the number of accused persons will also increase. It is under these circumstances that we request the matter to be postponed to 15 November for mention while we propose 4 to 14 February and 9 to 20 March 2020 as the trial dates.”
Lt-Gen Kamoli’s lawyer, Advocate Letuka Molati, replied by saying he “had nothing to say” and he would “meet the prosecution on the trial dates”.
Lance Corporal Ntsane’s lawyer, Advocate Lepeli Molapo, asked that they be served with the amended charge sheet as well as the witnesses’ statements before the 15 November 2019 remand date.
The Director of Public Prosecutions, Advocate Hlalefang Motinyane, attended the Tuesday court session. Also in attendance was the Lesotho Defence Force Major General Ramanka Mokaloba who calmly followed proceedings from the gallery.
Lt-Gen Kamoli has consistently demanded that Major-Gen Mokaloba be added to the list of suspects in a January 2014 attempted murder case. The former army commander alleges that he is innocent of the charges and Major-Gen Mokaloba is the mastermind of the 27 January 2014 simultaneous bombings of the Moshoeshoe II homes of First Lady Maesaiah Thabane and her then neighbour, ‘Mamoshoeshoe Moletsane, as well as the Ha Abia residence of former police commissioner, Khothatso Tšooana.
Lt-Gen Kamoli wants the state to say whether or not it will add Major-Gen Mokaloba to the list of the accused or alternatively turn him into a state witness.
In addition to these murder and attempted charges, Lt-Gen Kamoli also faces charges of murdering army commander, Lt-Gen Maaparankoe Mahao, in June 2015.
Lt-Gen Kamoli is accused alongside Captain Litekanyo Nyakane, Captain Haleo Makara, Sergeant Lekhooa Moepi, Sergeant Motsamai Fako, Corporal Marasi ‘Moleli, Corporal Motšoane Machai, Corporal Mohlalefi Seitlheko and Corporal Tšitso Ramoholi.
Former National Security Services (NSS) director and head of Military Intelligence, Tumo Lekhooa, is also among the accused, but has not attended any court session since he fled the country in 2017.
The 10 officers are accused of acting in common intention or purpose to murder Lt-Gen Mahao on 25 June 2015 in Mokema.
Furthermore, the 10 are accused of attempting to murder Lt-Gen Mahao’s nephews, Mahao Mahao and Mabilikoe Leuta, by shooting at a vehicle in which they were passengers.
They are also charged with damaging Lt-Gen Mahao’s vehicle during the same operation, a white Nissan half-truck, by firing at it with an automatic rifle.
Lt-Gen Kamoli is further charged with the theft of Lt-Gen Mahao’s 9mm pistol and Samsung Galaxy mobile phone.
Zimbabwean judge, Justice Charles Hungwe, recently set 6 January 2020 as the date for Lt-Gen Mahao’s murder trial.
Meanwhile, Captain Nyakane and Lance Corporal Motsieloa on Tuesday engaged in a tense exchange of words with Justice Lebotse after the judge demanded to know why their lawyers were not in court to represent them.
The duo told the judge that their lawyers were absent due to their failure to pay them and they had since requested the High Court registrar for assistance in paying them.
Justice Tshosa then asked whether they were still getting their salaries and Captain Nyakane asked why he wanted to know.
“Where is your question leading to?” Captain Nyakane asked.
The judge did not respond after Lance Corporal Motsieloa immediately interjected, asking to be excused from the court for an appointment with a doctor.
“May I be excused so I can go and see the doctor? I have an appointment today which was set four months ago and I cannot keep track of the doctor’s dates because my medical report booklet is kept away from me in prison,” Lance Corporal Motsieloa said.
Adv Abrahams responded by saying he had been told by Lesotho Correctional Services officers that the doctor’s appointment had been rescheduled to later in the afternoon.
After repeatedly telling Captain Nyakane and Lance Corporal Motsieloa to sit down, Justice Tshosa, who maintained his cool throughout, then reminded the two soldiers that they were in a court of law and he would not tolerate their indecorous behaviour.
“You have behaved in this fashion before and I will not tolerate that. Even if you are used to behaving that way, you are in a different forum now.
“Some semblance of respect must be exhibited by people your age,” Justice Tshosa said.
The judge then told the duo to ensure that they had lawyers for their remand hearing on 15 November 2019.
“You should make sure that on 15 November you come with your legal representatives failing which the registrar shall appoint pro deo counsels for you. Should you reject the chosen lawyers, you will have to represent yourselves.
“The matter is postponed to 15 November 2019 for mention and counsels make sure all necessary documents are exchanged by then. The trial dates are set for 4 to 14 February 2020 and 9 to 20 March 2020,” Justice Tshosa ordered.