Double ritual murder suspect Lehlohonolo Scott was extradited from South Africa midmorning yesterday amid tight security and jostling by members of the public who wanted a close look at the legendary 30-year-old Koalabata resident.
Scott (28) escaped from Maseru Central Prison on 14 October 2012 while awaiting trial for the alleged murder of fellow Koalabata residents Moholobela Seetsa (13) and Kamohelo Mohata (22) in January and June 2012, respectively.
He had been arrested on 12 July 2012 alongside his mother ’Malehlohonolo, following the discovery of Seetsa and Mohata’s mutilated bodies in Koalabata.
After almost two years on the run, Scott was arrested in Durban on 6 April 2014 and lost his fight against extradition in the Verulam Magistrate’s Court on 5 May this year.
Shortly after 10am yesterday, Scott arrived at the Maseru Bridge Border Post in the company of five South African International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol) officers.
The Lesotho Times crew witnessed as the officers met with members of the South African Police Service (SAPS) stationed at the border during which some brief paperwork was done. Scott remained seated in a white Mercedes Benz kombi while the two parties did the paperwork.
Eventually, he was assisted out of the vehicle with his legs cuffed, with the officers immediately surrounding their visibly shaken captive and covering his head with a white cloth to shield him from curious onlookers.
The officers also warned journalists against taking photographs of their prisoner as they led him to the immigration counters where his travel documents were checked and stamped.
Scores of Lesotho Mounted Police Service Special Operations Unit (SOU) members had now arrived in a Quantum kombi to receive Scott from their South African counterparts. And following another briefing which took almost 30 minutes, Scott was transferred from the Mercedes Benz kombi to a Lesotho police white Toyota Corolla.
A convoy of Lesotho police vehicles, including the Quantum kombi full of heavily armed SOU members, then breezed through the Lesotho side of the border and headed straight for the High Court.
At the court, Scott was brought before Justice Teboho Joseph Moiloa, who remanded him in custody until 23 November 2015, when his trial is expected to resume.
Justice Moiloa decided to postpone the matter after Advocate Thapelo Mokuku, who is prosecuting the case, told the court that Scott’s lawyer, Advocate Thulo Hoeane, was not present to represent his client.
But before pronouncing his decision, Justice Moiloa asked Scott if Advocate Hoeane was still his lawyer.
“Yes my Lord; to my knowledge, Ntate Thulo (Hoeane) is still my lawyer,” Scott responded.
Asked by the judge where the lawyer was, Scott said he did not know.
Justice Moiloa then ruled: “The court remands you and postpones this case to Monday 23 November 2015. This is to allow you to make contact with your lawyer. In the meantime, both counsel should meet and discuss how we are going to deal with this matter to finality. You will remain in custody pending this trial. And I am appealing to you to behave while you are in there.”
Soon after this announcement, Scott was taken to the Maseru Central Correctional Service.
Contacted late yesterday, Advocate Hoeane told the Lesotho Times he was not in court to represent Scott because he had not been informed that his client was being extradited yesterday.
“I didn’t know that my client was appearing before the court today, and neither was I informed about his extradition. Even as we speak, I haven’t received formal communication from the prosecution side or anybody else for that matter, to inform me about this latest development,” Advocate Hoeane said.
Asked if he was still going to represent Scott, Advocate Hoeane said: “Definitely yes. I am representing Scott and his mother on prodeo terms. This means I am paid by the government to represent them. I submit my bills to the Registrar of the High Court and Court of Appeal for approval. So, yes, I remain their lawyer.”
Meanwhile, during his extradition hearings before the Durban North Magistrate’s Court, Scott argued his name was Lehlohonolo Mokhele and also that he was a South African, not a Lesotho citizen.
But Magistrate Vanitha Armu shot down this argument on the grounds there was enough evidence proving he was from Lesotho.
On 5 May 2015, the court ruled Scott should be extradited to Lesotho.
The magistrate said he had been convinced Scott was “the right person” wanted by the Lesotho government in connection with the killing of Seetsa and Mohata. The mutilation of the bodies led to speculation that the two had been killed for ritual purposes. In addition to murder, Scott would also be charged with escaping from lawful custody.