Home Comment It’s time for Lesotho to review its bail laws

It’s time for Lesotho to review its bail laws

by Lesotho Times


IT is a no-brainer that Section 6 of the Constitution guarantees every person a right to liberty.

Furthermore, in terms of section 12(2)(a) of the Constitution, “every person accused of a criminal offence shall be presumed to be innocent until he is proven guilty”.

In addition to that, section 109 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act (CP&E) states that, “the High Court may, at any stage of any proceedings taken in any court in respect of an offence, admit the accused to bail”.

These provisions of the law guarantee murder suspects a right to be admitted to bail by the High Court exercising its own discretion.

However, Basotho from all walks of life including the police and other law experts feel that the High Court has been too lenient in awarding alleged murderers bail, thus, propelling the rapid rise of criminal offences which are either committed by the same suspects admitted on bail or aggrieved victims who would want to avenge by also murdering the same suspects to settle scores on behalf of their acquaintances.

Just recently, a prime suspect in the murders of Ikhetheleng Matabane and ‘Maserema ‘Makong, suspended Naledi Funeral Planners CEO, Thabiso Madiba, was granted a mere M2 000 bail for the gruesome killings that shook the country, given the brazen way they were committed.

If ever there was a case that proved that Lesotho  is now a country without a soul, it has to be the Matabane and ‘Makong double murder story.

Now, Mr Matabane who was a loving father and Mrs ‘Makong who was a wife and mother to three small, beautiful children, are no more, while their alleged killer is walking free on a cheap M2 000 bail. Maliba is probably spending quality time with his own children after being granted bail just days after being in detention.

If the murders were committed in South Africa,  Maliba’s case would be a Schedule Six offence, meaning that for him to be released on bail – particularly in light of the fact  that he is a prime legitimate suspect – he would have to prove exceptional circumstances.

But not here in Lesotho. All Maliba had to do was arrange the beastly killings of the two, walk to court and  get easy M2 000 bail (M1 000 per each life lost).

The question becomes inevitable? When a criminal justice system treats suspected murderers with kid gloves, what message does it send to the rest of society? What does it say about us as a society? It simply means that murder is now an acceptable practice. It means the justice system is giving thumbs up tomurder.

It means that Lesotho’s judges and magistrates are simply saying it is right to kill, while they use their discretion to make sure killers do not suffer the pain of incarceration.

And to make matters worse, once granted such lenient bail, it is often the end of the story.

When dangerous criminals get bail easily and quickly, they have all the time to try and circumvent the judicial process and ensure they are never held accountable.

The painful reality to all and sundry is that  Maliba will now live and enjoy his life while the deceased’s own lives  have  been needlessly cut  short. They will never return to their loved ones.

Just a few months ago, Bokang Mahlelehlele and Matsoso Maekane, the two people accused of murdering Tsikoane constituency legislator Malefane Mabote’s wife, walked out on a paltry M5 000 bail each.

Again, two Maseru sisters who allegedly killed their mother so they could cash in on her insurance, Nthei Rasekoai and ’Maphoka Rasekoai walked away with a measly M500 bail each.

Even if we take into account that bail must not be punitive, what we are seeing in Lesotho is wholly ridiculous. Criminals now enjoy more rights than suspects.

To make matters worse, the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) did not oppose bail in all these instances, despite the harrowing nature of the murders.

So, the DPP is essentially saying that in Lesotho, you can commit the most heinous of crimes and the red carpet is laid up for you to get easy bail.  That is why crime is ever escalating

How can we forget businessman, Tséliso Nthane, who shot and killed his worker then bizarrely claimed he had fired a warning shot that ricocheted back to hit and kill the worker.

His bizarre story found currency in our courts. Not only was he acquitted; he was also given his gun back. Only God knows what that gun will do next since it self-operates – according to the version accepted by the courts – and its bullets miraculously hit the ground only to bounce back and kill. This is how bad things have become in our country. We have become a sad joke.

Now this begs the question, where is parliament in this picture? What is the legislature doing to right these wrongs? What of Prime Minister Sam Matekane’s administration?


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