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Jail him now, court orders

by Lesotho Times
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MASERU — Popular broadcaster Motlatsi Ncholu must be arrested and start serving 10 years behind bars for fondling a minor, the Lesotho High Court has ordered.

Ncholu, an award-winning football commentator, was in March last year convicted by the Quthing Magistrates’ Court of the sexual offence against a 15-year-old girl and sentenced to 10 years in jail.

He, however, appealed to the High Court against both conviction and sentence.

Ncholu’s appeal was based on what he alleged to be misdirection by the Magistrates’ Court during court proceedings.

His bail was extended following the appeal.

The prosecution’s evidence in the Quthing Magistrates’ Court was that Ncholu committed the sexual offence when he and the complainant were booking a room in Quthing, 152km south of Maseru, when they were on their way to Durban, South Africa, in July 2007.

The appeal, however, did not proceed until March 23 when the High Court ordered that Ncholu be arrested and start serving the 10-year jail term.

Ncholu had continually sought the postponement of the hearing of the appeal.

“Bail term pending appeal is cancelled and the appellant must be taken to jail to start serving his sentence,” ordered Justice Lisebo Chaka-Makhooane.

The order was made in absentia as Ncholu did not attend court.

However, the High Court only issued a warrant of arrest last Friday, 10 days after Justice Chaka-Makhooane’s order.

Ncholu was still a free man on Monday this week because the warrant of arrest had not been served on him yet.

Justice Chaka-Makhooane ordered the broadcaster’s arrest and incarceration after she noted that the justice system was being frustrated by Ncholu and his lawyers.

The judge’s observation was made after Ncholu’s lawyers told the court that they intended to change the appeal into review proceedings.

Justice Chaka-Makhooane said since Ncholu’s lawyers had not yet made a proper decision, Ncholu should start serving the sentence.

“The court is of the impression that his (Ncholu’s) counsel is uncertain on which route to take,” Justice Chaka-Makhooane said.

“In the meantime a year has passed without the appeal being prosecuted.

“Unfortunately the court cannot be held at ransom while the appellant is trying to decide what to do.

“The wheels of justice must continue to turn while he is rethinking his position.”

The Lesotho Times established that the warrant of arrest was sent to Maseru Central Police on Monday to be served on Ncholu.

Maseru urban police commander Mpota Nthako refused to comment on whether there was such a warrant or not.

“I cannot speak about things of this nature because they affect police procedural measures to effect the arrest,” Nthako said.

“I don’t know whether he has been arrested or not.”

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