…accuses senior police officers and prominent civilians of plotting murder her
FRAUD-ACCUSED ‘Makarabo Mojakhomo who allegedly disappeared from police custody under unclear circumstances has resurfaced in South Africa amid claims that she could have been assisted by some police officers to flee the country.
Ms Mojakhomo’s lawyer, Advocate Letuka Molati, recently wrote to the Police Commissioner, Holomo Molibeli informing him that she was alive and in hiding in South Africa.
Adv Molati said that Ms Mojakhomo would only return to the country when her safety was guaranteed and in due course she would spill the beans on some senior police officers and high-ranking civilians who allegedly abducted, trafficked and conspired to murder her on the day that she allegedly disappeared from police custody.
Adv Molati would not say how Ms Mojakhomo escaped from her abductors and ended up where she is currently hiding. He said he had instructed Ms Mojakhomo to prepare a sworn affidavit which would explain everything.
However, Adv Letuka Molati could be charged with obstructing the course of justice for allegedly being part of a conspiracy to conceal Ms Mojakhomo’s whereabouts.
The case could suck in police officers and other prominent people after Adv Molati wrote to Commissioner Molibeli, stating that Ms Mojakhomo did not escape from the police custody but “she was abducted with the direct help of the police from the police custody”.
There had been intense speculation that Ms Mojakhomo might have been murdered after she allegedly disappeared from police custody where she was awaiting trial for allegedly defrauding the First Lady ‘Maesaiah Thabane’s Trust Fund of at least M200 000.
Ms Mojakhomo was last seen by her relatives at the Police Headquarters in Maseru on 30 May 2018 where she was detained for the alleged fraud.
Ms Mojakhomo was arrested on 29 May this year and she was due in court on 31 May. She could not appear in court after the police claimed she had escaped from custody while they were preparing to take her to court.
But Ms Mojakhomo’s family came out guns blazing insisting there was no way that she could have broken out of tightly guarded police cells. The family subsequently petitioned the High Court for an order for the police to produce her dead or alive.
The family 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 3 July 2018, the Mojakhomo family’s lawyer, Adv Molati, asked High Court judge Justice Semapo Peete to give Ms Thabane and the Police minister, ‘Mampho Mokhele 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”.
However, in the latest turn of events, Adv Molati wrote to Commissioner Molibeli informing him that Ms Mojakhomo was alive and well. Adv Molati stated that contrary to the police allegations, Ms Mojakhomo did not escape but “she was abducted with the direct help of the police from the police custody”.
“‘Makarabo Mojakhomo has instructed us, as we hereby do that she did not escape from police custody but that she was abducted with the direct help of the police from the police custody,” Adv Molati wrote in the letter that is dated 30 July 2018. The letter is also copied to Ms Mokhele, the Registrar of the High Court and the Attorney General Haae Phoofolo.
Adv Molati also states in the letter that Ms Mojakhomo had instructed him to inform Commissioner Molibeli that she (Ms Mojakhomo) would only return to Lesotho “when the time is right” to answer to criminal charges.
Adv Molati further states that even he does not know the exact whereabouts of Ms Mojakhomo, adding that the concealing of her exact location was meant to ensure her safety because her because her version of the events of 31 May 2018 – the day she disappeared from police custody- would incriminate “very high-ranking people”.
“She (Ms Mojakhomo) was advised not to disclose her whereabouts even to the author (Adv Molati) until such time that she has been put in proper witness protection because if her version were to prevail, then very high-ranking people in Lesotho, civilians and also high-ranking police officers are implicated in possible criminal charges of conspiracy to commit murder, kidnapping, defeating the ends of justice, human trafficking and perjury in order to conceal a suspect who is intended to be killed.
“We have advised her (Ms Mojakhomo) to file a sworn statement in which she narrates all that happened. We shall forward you her statement accordingly after she emails it,” Adv Molati wrote.
Adv Molati’s letter this week landed him in hot water with the police who on Monday summoned him to the Police Headquarters and subjected him to a two-hour long interrogation.
Adv Molati told the Lesotho Times that he wrote to Commissioner Molibeli informing him that Ms Mojakhomo would “come to Lesotho to answer criminal charges against her when the time is right”.
He said a few hours after the letter was delivered to the office of Commissioner Molibeli, police officers arrived at his workplace in Maseru and demanded that he accompanies them to the Police Headquarters.
“What happened is that on Monday, after 5 pm, I was at my workplace when the police arrived and asked me to go with them to the Police Headquarters in connection with the letter that I wrote to the Police Commissioner.
“I had stated in that letter that I instructed ‘Makarabo not to disclose her exact whereabouts, even to me, until such time that we know she is safe to come back home and that didn’t go well with the police. In fact, they accused me of helping ‘Makarabo to hide from the police,” Adv Molati told the Lesotho Times.
He said the police informed him that he had erred by instructing his client to keep her whereabouts a secret and this could be a criminal offence.
Adv Molati said he replied by telling the police that he stood by his decision that ‘Makarabo should conceal her whereabouts and he strongly felt that no offence had been committed in that regard as his main interest was to ensure that her safety was guaranteed.
“My reason for instructing her to keep her whereabouts a secret is to ensure that ‘Makarabo is safe. If her version of events of that day (31 May 2018) is anything to go by, serious criminal charges will be preferred against some people and for that to happen, ‘Makarabo needs to be put under witness protection until such time when her safety is guaranteed.
“Yes, ‘Makarabo is supposed to come back but there has to be a proper security for her because we cannot just hand her back to the police without making proper arrangements.”
He said although the interrogation was not in any way intimidating and that the police voluntarily released him, the manner in which he was brought to the Police Headquarters left a lot to be desired.
He said there was no need for police officers to arrive at his office after working hours, unannounced and demand that he accompanies them to the Police Headquarters.
“I was not informed of this operation in a good way. I work in the courts of law and the court martial (which I am involved in) is proceeding this whole week. This shows that my movements are easy to track and if this was done with good intentions, the police could have just phoned and told me to report myself to the police. I would have complied that without hesitating.
“The manner in which this matter was handled threatened my co-workers, wife and mother. My mother’s blood pressure shot up and she was really shocked by this because she does not know her son to be a criminal,” Adv Molati said, adding this made it difficult to “distinguish the good from the bad cops”.
“I always go to the police either to tip them off or at their request to provide legal opinion like in the case of music piracy where they asked me to assist them. Therefore, this working relationship between us should have counted for something.
“For lack of a better word, it is nonsensical to say that I was part of a plan to have ‘Makarabo disappear from the police. I have instructed her to write her account of what transpired on the day (she ‘disappeared’). As soon as her sworn affidavit is filed, we will know what exactly happened that day. For the record, I have no interest in working with anyone to flee from the police and I would terminate my working relationship with any client who suggests that.”
On his part, Commissioner Molibeli addressed the media on Tuesday and said that Adv Molati was one of the suspects in the conspiracy to conceal Ms Mojakhomo’s whereabouts. Commissioner Molibeli said they called Adv Molati for questioning because of “many unanswered questions arising from his letter”.
“Everyone is a suspect in this matter, Ntate Molati included. Hence we will treat information from Ntate Molati with suspicion. We don’t want to leave any stones unturned lest we miss something crucial in our investigations. We have reason to suspect everybody – from myself to Ntate Molati – and that is why we have written to the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) to investigate the conduct of the police in this matter (of Ms Mojakhomo’s disappearance),” Commissioner Molibeli said.
He said the police stormed Adv Molati’s offices unannounced because past experiences had taught them that not everyone honoured the call to report to the police.
He said police investigators decided to pay surprise visits to persons of interest to avoid a situation like that of the Socialist Revolutionaries (SR) leader Teboho Mojapela who fled the country after promising to present himself to the police for questioning.
“We found it proper to call in Ntate Molati for questioning in this fashion and how one is called in for question is solely the discretion of investigating officers who have had to learn the hard way. Once bitten, twice shy,” Commissioner Molibeli said.
Law of Society of Lesotho President Adv Tekane Maqakachane said the protocols and procedures that defined the engagements of the police and lawyers in their line of work were not clear and urgently needed to be clarified.
“We will therefore engage the police commissioner in robust discussions regarding this matter because we need to establish clear working protocols and procedures between the police and lawyers. I must however, mention that as lawyers we do not occupy any special place that would stop us from being called by the police (for questioning)” Adv Maqakachane said.