News Without Fear or Favour

Top lawyers spared jail

Bereng Mpaki

THREE lawyers representing former army commander, Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli’s co-accused soldiers in their high-profile trials, have been spared jail for contempt of court.

The three lawyers are Advocates Karabo Mohau, Napo Mafaesa and Lintle Tuke.

Adv Mohau represents Major Pitso Ramoepane, Adv Tuke represents Captain Litekanyo Nyakane and Adv Mafaesa represents Corporal Mohlalefi Seitlheko in their attempted murder case in connection with the 27 January 2014 simultaneous bombings of the Moshoeshoe II homes of former First Lady ‘Maesaiah Thabane and the Ha-Abia residence of former police commissioner, Khothatso Tšooana.

Lt-Gen Kamoli is represented by Adv Letuka Molati who either appears in person or sends his subordinate, Adv Moeletsi Mokhathali, to stand in for him each time he has to defend the former army commander. The other suspect, Sergeant Malefane Heqoa, is represented by Adv Hopolang Nathane who was present in court last Monday.

The trio of Advocates Mohau, Mafaesa and Tuke last Monday incurred the wrath of Zimbabwean Judge Charles Hungwe after they failed to appear on behalf of their clients who are facing attempted murder charges.

Justice Hungwe subsequently gave them 48 hours to “show cause” why they should not be jailed for seven days for their no show in court.

The judge heard their submissions last Wednesday and said he would hand down judgement on 24 November 2020.

The trio had last Wednesday given various reasons for their no show in court last Monday.

Adv Tuke submitted that he failed to appear in court because he had “mistakenly” diarised the trial date as 16 December 2020 instead of 16 November 2020.

Advocates Mohau and Mafaesa were represented by fellow lawyer, Adv Kabelo Letuka, who submitted that the duo had asked Adv Molati to stand in for him but the latter sent Adv Mokhathali. He said there was however, a communication breakdown and when he appeared in court, Adv Mokhathali omitted to mention that he was also representing Major Ramoepane.

Adv Letuka also submitted that Adv Mafaesa did not attend last Monday’s proceedings because he was not sure if he was still representing Corporal Seitlheko as two other unnamed lawyers had also claimed to be representing him.

Adv Letuka later apologised and promised that he and other lawyers would always avail themselves for proceedings instead of pursuing other issues on the same day the cases were supposed to be heard.

After hearing their submissions, Justice Hungwe said he would hand down judgement on 24 November 2020.

This week, Justice Hungwe discharged the lawyers. He said he decided to spare them any punishment and allow them to go free after they wrote to him to explain their non-appearance in court last week.

He said among other things, they had explained that they had chosen not to all appear in court at the same time and stand in for each other to reduce the legal costs on their clients.

“In light of the explanations and the apologies made, the ‘show cause’ letter dated 16 November 2020 is hereby discharged,” Justice Hungwe ordered.

The ruling clears the way for the resumption of Lt-Gen Kamoli and his co-accused’s attempted murder trial.

Justice Hungwe set 3 December 2020 as the trial date.

It remains to be seen if the lawyers will appear on behalf of their clients as they are among 10 lawyers who have withdrawn their services in protest over the alleged violations of the rights of their clients.

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