‘Bail ruling ready in editor’s shooting’
HIGH Court judge, Justice Molefi Makara, will today decide whether or not to release army officer, Mahanyane Phusumane, from prison where he is currently detained for allegedly shooting Lesotho Times editor, Lloyd Mutungamiri, in July 2016.
Justice Makara who has previously reserved judgement in the bail application yesterday set today as the date he would finally rule on the matter.
Yesterday the Justice Makara’s clerk, Eric Ramalefane, told the Lesotho Times that the judge had to postpone the ruling to today after a request from the defence lawyers who said they had to attend to other commitments.
“The judgment was supposed to be delivered this afternoon (Wednesday) at 2pm, but the lawyers asked the honourable judge to reschedule to tomorrow,” Mr Ramalefane said, adding, “The judge reluctantly agreed to the postponement because he was ready to deliver the judgment”.
Phusumane (37) from Masowe, Maseru, is one of five army officers awaiting trial for the attempted murder of Mr Mutungamiri. The editor was shot at his home in Upper Thamae in Maseru in the late hours of 9 July 2016 after knocking off from work.
Phusumane’s fellow accused are Brigadier Rapele Mphaki (47), Khutlang Mochesane (57), Nyatso Tšoeunyane (41) and Maribe Nathane (35).
Phusumane applied to be released on bail on the grounds that he was not a flight risk and that the prison conditions were not conducive to his health.
His lawyer, Advocate Molise Molise, argued that his client cooperated with the police when he was first called in for questioning and he needed to be in an environment that would not aggravate his lung condition.
But the lawyer who is prosecuting the case on behalf of the crown, Advocate Thulo Hoeane, strongly opposed Phusumane’s bail application.
“Indeed, I assisted my learned friend (Advocate Molise) to get the petitioner’s health book from the Lesotho Correctional Services (LCS).
“But I did not anticipate that my learned friend would come to court and try to interpret the contents of that book because he is not a medical expert.
“We do not deny that the petitioner is sick but it is only an expert who testify to the severity of the illness. The question is how to consider the severity of his sickness that can warrant his release on bail.
“LCS nurse, Chief Officer Mahanyane Putsoane made an affidavit and said the petitioner is regularly afforded treatment whenever he requires it. This health book is of not much assistance to his case to be released on bail,” Advocate Hoeane argued.
He also argued that the fact that Phusumane reported to the police before his arrest was no guarantee that he will not flee, particularly now when he knew he was likely to spend a long time in jail if convicted.
The five soldiers are also expected to appear before Senior Resident Magistrate, Phethise Motanyane, next week on Thursday for the commencement of the attempted murder trial.