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Court awaits First Lady’s testimony

by Lesotho Times
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Tefo Tefo

THE High Court on Tuesday postponed to 19 and 20 July this year its inquiry into the whereabouts of missing fraud suspect, ‘Makarabo Mojakhomo, to enable the First Lady ‘Maesaiah Thabane to testify in court.

Justice Semapo Peete on Tuesday postponed the court proceedings after the lawyer representing the family of Ms Mojakhomo, Advocate Letuka Molati, said he was only left with leading the evidence of Ms Thabane and the Police Minister, ‘Mampho Mokhele.

Ms Thabane and Ms Mokhele were subpoenaed by the Mojakhomo family to testify in the court application in which the family is seeking an order directing the police to produce ‘Makarabo dead or alive more than a month after she allegedly went missing from police custody.

Ms ‘Makarabo was last seen by her relatives at the Police Headquarters in Maseru on 30 May 2018 where she was detained for allegedly defrauding the ‘Maesaiah Thabane Trust Fund of at least M200 000.

Ms Mojakhomo was arrested on 29 May this year and she was due in court on 31 May in connection with the fraud and theft of at least M200 000 from First Lady Maesaiah Thabane’s Trust Fund.  She could not appear in court after the police claimed she had escaped from custody while she was being prepared for court.

But Ms Mojakhomo’s family have come out guns blazing insisting there is no way she could have broken out of tightly guarded police cells. The family has since petitioned the High Court for an order for the police to produce her dead or alive.

The family has cited social media reports that she could have been murdered by the police as one of the reasons for its bid to have her produced before the court.

And on Tuesday, the Mojakhomo family’s lawyer, Adv Molati, told Justice Peete that he was supposed to call Ms Thabane into the witness box but she was not available due to other commitments of national importance.

Adv Molati asked Justice Peete to postpone the case so that Ms Thabane could attend the court proceedings.

He also said he was expecting Ms Mokhele to testify in her capacity as the Minister of Police, but he did not get an explanation as to why the minister did not turn up.

He said the court should give the First Lady and the minister a chance to testify before the court as their testimony “would assist the court to reach a conclusion as to whether or not ‘Makarabo escaped from police custody or was made to disappear by the police”.

The case was postponed after the Police Commissioner, Holomo Molibeli, testified on how he came to know about the ‘disappearance’ of ‘Makarabo from police custody.

“I learned about the incident (Ms ‘Makarabo’s ‘disappearance’) on 1 June 2018 when I returned from an official trip to Angola.

“I was informed by the Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Keketso Monaheng that the said person escaped from custody.

“The explanation I got was that the suspect was seated somewhere in the corridor where when preparations were being made to take her to court to apply for her further detention.

“But, I don’t know if she was aware that she was going to be taken to court for the police to apply for further detention. I don’t know if she was aware that she was even going to be taken to court,” Commissioner Molibeli said.

Asked by Justice Peete if the police were investigating Ms ‘Makarabo’s ‘disappearance’, Commissioner Molibeli said: “There is a police team and it is composed of three officers”.

He said the investigation sought to establish where Ms ‘Makarabo could have escaped to and how she escaped from custody.

Other witnesses that have already testified include ‘Makarabo’s sister, ‘Malesole Letsie, who said she suspected that her sister was ‘caused’ to disappear by the police.

“When we last visited her at police headquarters where she was detained on the 30th of May 2018 we were allowed to talk to her.

“But the police said we should ask her anything relating to why she had been brought to the police. We only talked about general issues.

“When I came to see her the next day, I was told she had escaped but I could not understand how a woman could run away from the police from the first floor of that complex and out of the main gate where there are police officers.

“I hold a strong opinion that she did not escape but was caused to disappear by the police,” Ms Letsie said.

Ms ‘Makarabo’s father-in-law, Tello Mojakhomo, said he was surprised by the police attitude when he asked them about the whereabouts of Ms ‘Makarabo.

“They did not want me to tell them face-to-face that they had caused her to disappear.

“I said this after discovering that they were giving explanations which did not make sense to me at all,” he said.

Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Motlatsi Mapola told the court that he got the report that Ms ‘Makarabo escaped from custody as preparations were being made to take her to court.

“If indeed she escaped, it is out of total negligence because every suspect should be kept in handcuffs every time he or she is taken out of the cell.

“It is a proper and an award deserving practice for a police officer to hand cuff a woman suspect,” ACP Mapola said to laughter from the packed court gallery.

He also said his office would take disciplinary action against the police officer responsible for Ms ‘Makarabo’s escape.

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