Treason trial dates set

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Mohalenyane Phakela

THE treason trial of former army commander Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli and others will be held in October, November and December 2020.

Botswana Judge Onkemetse Tshosa on Tuesday set the trial dates during the court appearance of Lt-Gen Kamoli, Litekanyo Nyakane, Lance Corporal Motloheloa Ntsane and Lance Corporal Leutsoa Motsieloa for their routine remand.

“The trial is set for 12 to 14 October 2020,” Justice Tshosa said.

“It will resume on 10, 13 23, 27 and 30 November 2020 and again on 1, 3 and 4 December 2020.  The crown is ordered to avail all witness statements to the defence and all parties should finalise matters pertaining to the pre-trial conference by then.”

Politicians Mothetjoa Metsing and Selibe Mochoboroane will only join their fellow accused if they lose their constitutional application to stop the state from trying them at least until after the implementation of the multi-sector reforms recommended by SADC in 2016.

The treason charge is in connection with the 30 August 2014 attempted coup against the first government of former Prime Minister Thabane. Mr Metsing was deputy prime minister at the time of the attempted coup while Mr Mochoboroane was Communications minister and LCD secretary general.

Lt-Gen Kamoli and Captain Nyakane are already in prison awaiting trial for the murder of police Sub-Inspector Mokheseng Ramahloko during the attempted coup.

The treason trial failed to take off in the High Court on 25 February 2020 after Messrs Metsing and Mochoboroane filed a Constitutional Court application for an order barring Adv Motinyane from prosecuting them because of the October 2018 agreement between the former Thabane-led government and the opposition halting any trials of politicians until after the completion of the reforms.

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Clause 10 of that agreement states that “Mr Metsing and similarly placed persons in exile will not be subjected to any pending criminal proceedings during the dialogue and reforms process”.

The Constitutional Court has previously outlawed this particular clause 10 after the late police constable Mokalekale Khetheng’s father, Thabo Khetheng, petitioned the court to declare it unconstitutional saying self-serving agreements between politicians could not outstrip the constitution. PC Khetheng was killed by fellow police officers on 26 March 2016.

But Messrs Metsing and Mochoboroane petitioned the same court on 25 February 2020 to rescind its 22 November 2018 judgement outlawing Clause 10.

They want the court to stop their trial in line with a recent directive by SADC to ex-Prime Minister Thabane.

Retired South African Judge Dikgang Moseneke, who leads SADC’s facilitation in Lesotho on behalf of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, wrote to Mr Thabane informing him that the trial should be stopped in line with the 2018 agreement to defer criminal trials until after the implementation of the multi-sector reforms.

A fortnight ago, Messrs Metsing and Mochoboroane asked the Constitutional Court to postpone their constitutional application to give the new Moeketsi Majoro-led government an opportunity to order the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Advocate Hlalefang Motinyane, to stop their trial in line with a recent directive by SADC to ex-Prime Minister Thabane.

But the duo’s lawyer, Adv Motiea Teele, on Thursday told the court that they would no longer be pursuing the postponement of the constitutional application because the government insisted on proceeding with the treason trial. He said they now wanted their constitutional application to stop their trial to heard without further delay.

This after DPP Motinyane insisted that the trial should go ahead without further delay. In her court papers filed last week to oppose the duo’s attempts to postpone their constitutional application, Adv Motinyane insisted that the judiciary is independent of the executive.  It is therefore “unacceptable” for Messrs Metsing and Mochoboroane or the executive to interfere with the its decision to charge the duo with treason, she said.

Messrs Metsing and Mochoboroane’s constitutional application will now be heard on 23 June 2020.

It will be heard by the Constitutional Court bench comprising of Acting Chief Justice ‘Maseforo Mahase and Justices Semapo Peete and Molefi Makara.

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