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Fresh woes for murder-accused soldiers

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Mohalenyane Phakela

MURDER-accused Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) Captain Litekanyo Nyakane has been dealt a major blow after his lawyer, Advocate Karabo Mohau, withdrew his services.

Adv Mohau on Tuesday withdrew from the case saying he had not had adequate time to prepare for the murder trial which ought to have begun that day.

Captain Nyakane and four other soldiers stand accused of the 2012 murder of three civilians in Mafeteng.

The four other accused are Lance Corporal Khauhelo Makoae, Lance Corporal Sebilo Sebilo, Privates Tšepo Tlakeli and Thebe Tšepe.

They stand accused of murdering Thabang Mosole, Monyane Matsie and Pakiso Ntala Letatabe at Ha Motanyane, Mafeteng in 2012.

Their trial was supposed to have started on Tuesday but it was postponed to 13 April 2021 after the Crown Counsel, Adv Mosoeunyane Masiphole, informed the court that three of his eight witnesses from Mafeteng had been involved in a car accident and therefore could not make it to court.

Adv Mohau also took the opportunity to announce his withdrawal from the case, saying he had only been briefed about it the previous day and would thus not be able to represent Captain Nyakane to the best of his ability.

“We have had a moment of reflection on the proceedings of today,” Adv Mohau said.

“When we accepted to represent the first accused (Captain Nyakane), we intended to discharge that responsibility to the best of our ability. We are aware of the seriousness of the charges and severity of the sentence if the accused are convicted. Had we been instructed earlier; we would have done thorough preparations to ensure that we do justice to the case.

“Advocates are there to assist the court so that justice is done. In the present circumstances, because I also love my job of assisting the court to dispense justice, I feel we will not be of any assistance to the court. Therefore, we have no option but to withdraw from the case. We cannot participate in a case when we are not fully prepared to the best of our ability,” Adv Mohau said.

Adv Mohau’s Tuesday withdrawal from the case means that all five soldiers are now without legal representation.

Captain Nyakane’s four co-accused were already without any legal representation after they rejected Adv Vuyani ‘Mone who had been appointed last November by the judiciary to represent them on a pro deo basis.

Adv ‘Mone was appointed after the five soldiers’ initial lawyers withdrew their representation for unexplained reasons. The lawyers are Advocates Zwelakhe Mda KC, Napo Mafaesa, Mkhantji Kao and Lintle Tuke.

The four accused rejected Adv ‘Mone, alleging that he had been appointed to ensure their conviction.

However, Justice Tshosa insisted that come 13 April 2021, the trial would proceed even if the soldiers would still not have found new lawyers to represent them.

“I have been counting the number of times I have asked you about your lawyers after giving your numerous opportunities to look for them,” Justice Tshosa said.

“Remember you rejected Adv ‘Mone. The court is ready to proceed whether or not you have representation,” he said.

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