Judge warns Scotts after lawyer snubs court

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’Marafaele Mohloboli

High Court judge Justice Teboho Moiloa yesterday warned double ritual murder suspects, Lehlohonolo Scott and his mother ’Malehlohonolo, to “stop playing games” after their lawyer, Advocate Thulo Hoeane, failed to turn up for their hearing.

The lawyer, who was appointed by the government to represent the Scotts, on 13 April 2016 told the High Court he was withdrawing from the case citing “professional reasons”.

Advocate Hoeane later told the Lesotho Times he decided to withdraw his services because he was not apply with the way the judge was handling the case.

But Advocate Hoeane later had a change of heart after the Scotts indicated they did not want any other lawyer apart from him.

Advocate Hoeane had, however, indicated he would be applying for Justice Moiloa to recuse himself.

But the lawyer was not before the court yesterday as expected, while ’Malehlohonolo said she did not know his whereabouts.

The Scotts were arrested on 12 July 2012 for allegedly killing and mutilating their Koalabata neighbours, Moholobela Seetsa (13) and Kamohelo Mohata (22) in January and June 2012, respectively.

“It was only this morning that I talked to Ntate Hoeane and he told me that he had a problem with the Registrar but would still be before the court,” ’Malehlohonolo said.

Her son added: “We had made all the necessary arrangements and he was the only one left to deal with the Registrar’s office.”

Justice Moiloa then asked Scott how he would like the matter to proceed and the 30-year-old said he would want another chance to consult Advocate Hoeane.

“I would kindly ask this honorable court to allow me to go back to Ntate Hoeane and plead with him for representation because we can’t have anyone except him on this case,” Scott said.

But Justice Moiloa said the case was taking too long to proceed, and warned the court was not a “playground”.

“I have given this case priority and we are talking about people’s lives here, their bereaved families and the nation at large which wants to see the ultimate result in the delivery of justice. We have already wasted too much time on this case, and you should not play hide and seek,” said Justice Moiloa.

“Let me make it clear to you, Mr Scott; this is not a playground, this is a court of law and I would like to advise you to treat this case with all the seriousness it deserves. You are facing very serious charges and your representative doesn’t seem to be taking this matter as seriously as he should be doing.”

He also asked Scott if he was aware of the implications of unnecessary delays in the case.

“Has your legal representative told you about the implications of what you and him are doing? I think Ntate Hoeane has very little respect for the courts of law,” Justice Moiloa said.

But Scott said he did not know what the judge was talking about because as far he was concerned, he was not guilty of any crime.

“No, my Lord. I don’t know what you are talking about because I still don’t even know what I’ve done to be before this court. I haven’t done anything wrong,” said Scott.

But Justice Moiloa advised the Scotts to look for another lawyer paid by either the government or themselves.

“Even if I was to pay for my own legal representation, I would still choose Ntate Hoeane,” Scott responded.

Scott was also advised to seek legal advice and guidance from either the Law Society or Legal Aid.

The case continues on 24 May.

Contacted for comment yesterday, Advocate Hoeane said: “The only reason why I didn’t show up in court is because the Registrar has made it very clear that they don’t have money to pay me. There’s no point at all why I should go to court.

“I had promised to be before the court to ask the judge for his recusal but after being told that there was no money to pay me as I was already representing the accused on a pro deo basis, I assumed that the Registrar was trying to frustrate these proceedings.

“I don’t want to look like I’m trying to frustrate this case or being contemptuous to the court.

“I’m not that kind of a person and have great respect for the courts of law. It’s very unfortunate that Scott and his mother are now stranded without any legal representation because they have made it clear that they want me and me only for their case.”

Advocate Hoeane further said he was yet to talk to the Scotts about the issue of payment.

“Unless the payment issue is dealt with, I will not go before the court in relation to this matter,” he said.

In addition to the murder charges, Scott has been charged for escaping from lawful custody.

Scott escaped from Maseru Central Prison on 14 October 2012 while awaiting trial but was arrested in Durban, South Africa, as he emerged from a church service on 6 April 2014.

He was extradited to Lesotho on 21 October 2015, and appeared before the High Court the same day where Justice Moiloa remanded him in custody until 23 November 2015. His mother had been released on M500 bail in August 2013.

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