Moleleki’s co-accused push for separate trial

By Boitumelo Koloi

MASERU — Refela Holdings executives, co-accused in a fraud case involving former Natural Resources Minister, Monyane Moleleki, have asked for a separate trial.

Moleleki is charged with corruption for allegedly assisting the Mafeteng-based Refela Holdings fraudulently acquire prospecting licences in 2012, while he was still in cabinet.

Mining minister Tlali Khasu has since annulled the said licences saying they were issued under suspicious circumstances.

But the four Refela bosses, namely Mohapi Khofu (35), Tšepo Khofu (23), Kereke Moteletsane (31), and Moeketsi Motšoane (32) now want to be tried separately from Moleleki.

Their lawyer, Advocate Sakoane Sakoane KC, asked for a separate trial after the validity of Moleleki’s doctor’s note on Tuesday stole the show in the High Court.

Moleleki’s lawyer, Advocate Salemane Phafane, told the court his client was not in court due to ill-health, which led to lengthy arguments between him and the crown counsel, overshadowing the other four co-accused, in the process. Sakoane then asked the court to try his clients exclusive of Moleleki whose part in the trial, he argued, appeared to be the stumbling block to the case’s progress, which has been dragging before the court for more than a year.

Sakoane said it was unfair that his clients were incurring huge costs because of the delays.

“The court should consider separating the trial since our clients should not be burdened with expenses of tagging along because of the first accused (Moleleki),” Sakoane said.

However, Advocate Sipho Mdluli, the crown counsel, objected to the request, arguing the prosecution wanted to prove its case against the accused collectively.

“We know about that procedure, and we are not going to do that at this juncture, lest we end up acquitting people who are guilty,” Mdluli said.

The case was postponed to February 19 to allow the defence time to confirm Moleleki’s inability to stand trial on account of illhealth.

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