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Broadcaster’s trial to restart

by Lesotho Times
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MASERU – Popular broadcaster Motlatsi Ncholu will answer sexual offence charges again in the next two months after the High Court ordered a restart of the initial trial that landed him in prison.

Ncholu was in March last year convicted by the Quthing Magistrates’ Court of molesting a 15 year-old-girl in July 2007.He was sentenced to 10 years in jail. He appealed to the High Court against both conviction and sentence.

Ncholu’s appeal was based on what he alleged to be misdirection by the magistrate who presided over his case. The presiding magistrate was Nkuebe Ramabele.

In March this year Ncholu filed other court papers seeking the court’s permission to change his appeal into review proceedings.

Ncholu, who was then on bail pending appeal, was sent to jail to start serving his sentence because the High Court judge Lisebo Chaka-Makhooane said he seemed to have not decided what kind of proceedings he wanted to adopt.

His review was heard last Monday and the High Court judge Gabriel Mofolo ordered that Ncholu’s case should start afresh in the magistrates’ court.

“Application for review is granted as prayed. Parties should secure date for hearing in three months of this order and bail conditions are re-instated,” ordered Mofolo on 18th May.

The prosecution’s evidence in the Quthing Magistrates’ Court was that Ncholu committed the sexual offence when he and the complainant were booking a room in Quthing, 152km south of Maseru.

They were on their way to Durban, South Africa, when the incident happened, the prosecution alleges.

But Ncholu complained in his High Court papers that the court proceedings from which he was convicted and sentenced to 10 years in jail were irregular because there was no interpreter during court proceedings.

In the court papers Ncholu said: “I verily aver that the first respondent (Ramabele) has conducted the proceedings most irregularly, capriciously and unreasonably. I aver that the conduct of the first respondent amounts to a denial of a right to a fair trial. Clearly the first respondent was bent on convicting me.”

High Court judge Mofolo upheld Ncholu’s argument and quashed the Quthing magistrates’ court proceedings.

Ncholu still insists that he is innocent.

When contacted this week Ncholu alleged that the police officers who handled the case in Quthing seemed to have had some ill motives to get him jailed.

“It seems that the police officers who are handling my case have some hidden agenda,” Ncholu alleged.

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