Kamoli, Mokhosi wait on High Court

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Mohalenyane Phakela

THE case in which murder-accused former Defence minister Tšeliso Mokhosi, former army commander Tlali Kamoli and 14 other former members of different security agencies are seeking the nullification of the appointment of foreign judges to handle their cases has been postponed to a date that will be announced in due course.

The case was initially set to be heard today by Justices Thamsanqa Nomngcongo, Moroke Mokhesi and Lebohang Molete but it was postponed to enable the judges to attend the state funeral of their late colleague, Justice ‘Maseshophe Hlajoane.

Justice Hlajoane died in Bloemfontein on 2 March after a long illness. She will be buried in her home area of Bela-Bela, Berea, today.

As a result, the Kamoli and other cases will not be heard today.

This was revealed by the Public Relations Officer of the Judiciary, ‘Mabohlokoa Mapikitla, in an interview with the Lesotho Times yesterday.

“All court proceedings for Thursday (today) are suspended because of the funeral of Justice Hlajoane,” Ms Mapikitla said, adding, “there are cases which had been set for today which will have to be allocated new dates”.

Ms Mapikitla also said it was still not clear when the foreign judges who are supposed to preside over the high-profile cases involving politicians, former and serving members of the security agencies will arrive in Lesotho. She said the court application by Lt-Gen Kamoli and others was “one of the reasons delaying their arrival because its outcomes will determine whether or not they will still be coming”.

On 15 February 2019, Mr Mokhosi, Lt-Gen Kamoli and 14 other former members of different security agencies filed an urgent application seeking the nullification of the appointment of foreign judges to handle their cases.

The first of the five foreign judges to try their cases, Zimbabwe’s Justice Charles Hungwe was sworn-in at the High Court on 15 January 2019 and on that same day, he got down to work, setting dates for the various criminal cases which will begin when the other foreign judges jet into the country.

But ahead of the arrival of the remaining foreign judges and the commencement of the trials, Mr Mokhosi, Lt-Gen Kamoli and 14 others filed their court application on 15 February 2019.

The other 14 applicants are Thabo Tšukulu, Mothibeli Mofolo, Mabitle Matona, Rapele Mphaki, Pitso Ramoepana, Lekhooa Moepi, Mahlele Moeletsi, Mahlomola Makhoali, Nthatakane Motanyane, Motšoane Machai, Liphapang Sefako, Nemase Faso, Tieho Tikiso and Litekanyo Nyakane.

They want the appointment of the foreign judges by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to be nullified on the grounds that it is unconstitutional.

In terms of the interim relief, they want Justice Hungwe and the other foreign judges to be interdicted and prevented from commencing criminal proceedings until the finalisation of their main court application.

“The first respondent (Justice Hungwe) and/or any foreign judge who has been appointed to preside over criminal proceedings… (should) be interdicted and prevented from convening and commencing criminal proceedings pending finalisation of these proceedings,” part of the application states.

“These criminal trials are stayed (deferred) until finalisation of the final relief (nullification of foreign judges’ appointments).

“It is declared that the appointment of the first respondent or any foreign judges specifically to preside over criminal proceedings was made in violation of the national constitution and is therefore null and void and of no force and effect.

“The recommendation by the Judicial Service Commission to appoint foreign judges to His Majesty the King (Letsie III) and the subsequent appointment of the first respondent (Justice Hungwe) or any foreign judge, pursuant to the initiatives of the executive, violates the provisions of section 132 (8) of the constitution which provides that in the exercise of its functions under the constitution, the Judicial Service Commission shall not be subject to the direction or control of any other person or authority.”

The applicants further state that the appointment of foreign judges violates “provisions of section 12 (1) of the Constitution which guarantees the right to fair trial and section 118 (3) of the constitution which guarantees the independence of the judiciary and are therefore null and void and of no force and effect”.

Mr Mokhosi also states in his affidavit that foreign judges were appointed to deliver verdicts in line with the government’s desire to have them jailed.

Lt-Gen Kamoli faces a murder charge stemming from the 30 August 2014 killing of Police Sub-Inspector, Mokheseng Ramahloko.

Sub-Inspector Ramahloko was shot and killed by soldiers during the attempted coup of 30 August 2014 at the police headquarters in Maseru. The soldiers who allegedly acted on the instructions of the then army commander, Lt-Gen Kamoli, also raided several other police stations in Maseru and seized an assortment of weapons.

Lt-Gen Kamoli also faces 14 counts of attempted murder in connection with the 27 January 2014 simultaneous bombings of the Moshoeshoe II homes of First Lady Maesaiah Thabane and the Ha Abia residence of former police commissioner, Khothatso Tšooana.

He is charged alongside Major Ramoepane, Captain Litekanyo Nyakane, Sergeant Heqoa Malefane and Corporal Mohlalefi Seitlheko.

Major Ramoepane faces a separate murder charge in connection with the 5 September 2017 assassination of army commander Lt-Gen Khoantle Motšomotšo.

Mr Mokhosi faces charges of murdering Police Constable (PC) Mokalekale Khetheng. He is charged along with former police commissioner Molahlehi Letsoepa and four other police officers.

The other officers are Senior Superintendent Thabo Tšukulu, Superintendent Mothibeli Mofolo, Inspector Mabitle Matona and Police Constable Haleokoe Taasoane who are all currently on suspension from the police service.

Messrs Mokhosi and Letsoepa are in exile while the four officers are still detained at the Maseru Maximum Security Prison.

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