Exiles lose ‘confidence’ in Thetsane

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Billy Ntaote

All Basotho Convention (ABC), Basotho National Party and Reformed Congress of Lesotho members living in exile in South Africa want Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Leaba Thetsane, off SADC Commission of Inquiry cases because of his alleged bias.

The exiles are now asking Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili to approach the Southern African Development Community (SADC) for prosecutors who would replace King’s Counsel Thetsane should such cases arise.

A spokesperson for the group, Thabo Thakalekoala, yesterday said Advocate Thetsane could not be trusted to handle such cases because of his alleged links “to a particular interest group”.

The SADC inquiry headed by Justice Mpaphi Phumaphi of Botswana was established to investigate circumstances surrounding the killing of former Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) commander, Maaparankoe Mahao, on 25 June this year. Lieutenant-General Mahao was shot by his military colleagues, allegedly while resisting arrest for suspected mutiny.

Justice Phumaphi and his team completed their investigations on 21 October and are compiling their findings in Bloemfontein, South Africa, for submission to the regional bloc.  Justice Phumaphi is also expected to recommend the course of action the Lesotho government should take regarding his findings.

However, according to a press statement released yesterday by Mr Thakalekoala, SADC should intervene once again to ensure Justice Phumaphi’s recommendations are carried out without any prejudice.

Mr Thakalekoala, who is also the spokesperson of exiled former prime minister and ABC leader Thomas Thabane, says the exiles “have lost all confidence and trust” in Advocate Thetsane. As a result, Mr Thakalekoala says the exiles are requesting the DPP should not be allowed “to draw up charges and prosecute cases arising out of the Commission’s findings and recommendations”.

Advocate Thetsane, he further charges, had “proved beyond reasonable doubt that he is working for a particular interest group and cannot be trusted with executing the mandate of his high office professionally”

Mr Thakalekoala further alleges Advocate Thetsane had become “an obstruction in the administration and dispensation of justice in the Kingdom of Lesotho”, hence the exiles’ loss of confidence in him.

Mr Thakalekoala further notes in the statement: “The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions was established under Section 141 of the Constitution of Lesotho. It is the expectation of the entire Basotho nation that the Office represents their interests, including their valued rights and freedoms in the criminal justice system.

“The DPP also has a duty to act in a way that strikes a fair balance between the competing interests of prosecuting to finality and ensuring conviction, protecting the rights of citizens and their freedoms and protecting the public from criminals.

“In short, we expect the DPP to promote the effective, fair, impartial and efficient prosecution of criminal offences, and to promote high standards and principles in the administration of criminal justice, including procedures to guard against or address miscarriages, in support of the rule of law.

“This office should not be seen to be representing any special interest group, but executing its mandate in the interest of all.

“The DPP should not direct the actions of the courts, and when appearing before a court to present a case, he should not enjoy a greater right to be heard, no greater right to present a case and no greater access to the judge than the defendant.

“In the Kingdom of Lesotho, we see the opposite happening; we see the DPP directly going against the mandate of his office, and the very principles that he is expected to uphold  and protect.

“He has, for all intents and purposes, allowed himself to be used as a ‘legal representative’ of a special interest group. The special interest group we are referring to is the current government and certain individuals within this government, and political parties that form part of this government such as the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), Democratic Congress (DC) and the Lesotho Defence Force.

“We see Mr Thetsane actively taking part in party politics to protect certain people in government, certain members of political parties that are part of government and indeed certain individuals within the military suspected of various crimes, from facing prosecution in the courts of law.”

Mr Thakalekoala lists several cases which he says show Advocate Thetsane’s alleged bias.

“The following cases prove our point that Mr Thetsane has become an obstruction in the administration and dispensation of criminal justice in Lesotho:  REX (the State) VS MOTHEJOA METSING & 6 ORS (Fraud, Theft And/Or Misappropriation of funds)–Maseru CIR 310/06/14; REX VS PONTSO MATUMELO SEKATLE (C/S 90 (1) OF RTA NO 8/81)-Maseru R/T/O-249/02/07; REX VS SELIBE MOCHOBOROANE (C/S 79 (1) & (2) OF THE PENAL CODE NO 6/2010, alternatively C/S 76 (2) (b) R/W SUB-SECTIONS (1) & (5) OF THE PENAL CODE; REX VS MOTLATSI MAJARA & 5 ORS (perjury) -Maseru CIR1652/09/13; REX VS BOKANG RAMATSELLA (Sedition)-Maseru PHQ RCI 748/08/14; REX VS THUSO LITJOB0.

“The above list of cases is not exhaustive. We are still making our investigations as to how many cases have suffered the same fate,” Mr Thakalekoala adds.

According to Mr Thakalekoala, the exiles had since been informed by their sources that LDF Commander Lieutenant-General Tlali Kamoli would allegedly soon be dragged before the courts “to frustrate the efforts of the SADC Commission”.

The statement continues: “Whereas a lot has been said by the current government about the confusion and distortion of facts caused by social media, one cannot turn a blind eye on a recent social media post concerning the manner in which the DPP intends to treat Lt-Gen Kamoli’s case once it reaches his office and the court of law.

“This will be done to frustrate the efforts of the SADC Commission of Inquiry in the event Lt-Gen Kamoli and other members of the Lesotho Defence Force are implicated in the brutal killing of  former LDF commander, Lt-Gen Maaparankoe Mahao.

“In support of the above, we have intelligence from the LDF Military Intelligence (MI) that there is a plan that Lt-Gen Kamoli will be charged and brought before the courts of law, and by design, he will tender a plea of not guilty.

“During this time, the DPP will frustrate the case to the extent that Lt-Gen Kamoli would not be connected to the crimes and consequently, he will be discharged or acquitted.

“We have a reasonable fear that if, by any chance, Lt-Gen Kamoli is implicated by the findings of the Commission and a recommendation is made that he be prosecuted, he would already have been exonerated by the courts of Lesotho.

“And as such, the whole exercise by the Commission would have been futile since the law is very clear on the principle of double jeopardy which simply means a person cannot be prosecuted more than once on the same matter, which has been previously decided upon by the courts of law.”

Mr Thakalekoala also questions “the integrity and independence” of the office of the DPP and the country’s judiciary.

“We should, as a nation, have full confidence and trust in our judicial system as the foremost guardian and protector of our basic liberties and freedoms. But we cannot realise and achieve this as long as our protector-the DPP- acts in connivance with the forces of darkness and evil that want to derail our justice system,” Mr Thakalekoala further alleges.

“This cancer,” Mr Thakalekoala continues, “which has affected the administration and dispensation of justice in our beloved Kingdom, can be cured and redeemed by government.

“While we do commend the prime minister’s initiative to seek assistance from SADC to investigate the circumstances surrounding Lt-Gen Mahao’s death, we implore him to approach SADC once again, to assemble and send a team of legal experts/ prosecutors to assist in the prosecution and adjudication of cases that are directly related to the findings of the SADC Independent Commission of Inquiry.

“We strongly want to believe that Prime Minister Mosisili approached SADC to send the Commission to Lesotho because he wanted to get to the root of the problem and circumstances surrounding Lt-Gen Mahao’s death. In the same manner, we strongly want to believe the prime minister also wants to see cases of those responsible for Lt-Gen Mahao’s death being dealt with in an impartial, unbiased and professional way before the courts of law.

“It is our hope and expectation that Prime Minister Mosisili will continue to cooperate and will also adhere to and abide by whatever recommendations that will be made by the SADC Commission.

“For reasons that we have advanced above, we want to state in no uncertain terms that we have lost all confidence and trust in the incumbent Director of Public Prosecutions, Mr Leaba Thetsane.”

Contacted for comment yesterday, Advocate Thetsane said he was not interested in what the exiles had to say.

“They can say anything they want and they should continue saying what they want; I really don’t care,” said Advocate Thetsane.

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