Kamoli seeks temporary release to bury his son

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Mohalenyane Phakela

FORMER army commander, Tlali Kamoli, has petitioned the High Court to order the Lesotho Correctional Services (LCS) to ferry him to his Ha Leqele, Maseru, home for the funeral of his son, Thabelo Kamoli, on Saturday.

The 31-year-old Thabelo died on 12 July 2021 after a short illness.

Lieutenant General (Lt-Gen) Kamoli has been detained at the Maseru Central Correctional Institution since 2017. He faces a litany of charges including treason, murder and attempted murder.

According to his court papers field on Tuesday, Lt-Gen Kamoli says after learning of his son’s death, he sought permission from the LCS Commissioner, Mating Nkakala, to attend the funeral on Saturday. He said he was however, told to seek a court order, hence his urgent application to the High Court.

Commissioner Nkakala, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Hlalefang Motinyane, and Attorney General, Rapelang Motsieloa, are the first to third respondents in the application.

“I learned about the untimely passing of my son, Thabelo Kamoli,” Lt-Gen Kamoli states in his application.

“I am reliably informed that he passed on the 12th of July 2021. I was informed by my other son on 13 or 14 July 2021.

“On 15 July 2021, I met with my counsel (Advocate Letuka Molati). Following the advice of my counsel, I approached the officers under the first respondent (Nkakala) to make a request to attend my son’s burial. I was given an answer on 16 July 2021 that I should request such permission from the court.”

Lt-Gen Kamoli argues that he is not a flight risk and should therefore be allowed to attend his son’s funeral. He argues that even before his arrest, he had handed himself to the police after being asked to report to the police headquarters in Maseru.

He said he had been 200km from Maseru at the time but he still cooperated with the police.

“I have now spent five years in detention when counting calendar years. One case has taken off in which I was joined to as an accused after two years in detention. I must indicate that my bail was denied. I do not wish to apply for bail although I do qualify as there has been a general but false feeling that I pose a security threat.

“I will apply for bail in due course when it is evident that I am incarcerated not to serve the ends of justice but to defeat them as the circumstances of my detention pending trial are very unique. In fact, they are not comparable to any case I am aware of since Lesotho gained free and fair democratic elections in 1993. (sic).

“I submit that I do not pose any security threat such as absconding. I have never displayed any such tendencies for I wish my country to have lasting peace and to allow justice to take its course. I submit that the court has the task of balancing the competing rights. The competing rights in this regard also fall into a narrow perspective which is whether there are jurisdictional facts that weigh in favour of preventing me from attending the burial ceremony of my late son as opposed to those favouring that I be granted the order that enables me to bury my son. I submit that there is nothing that can be proved which weighs in favour of preventing me from burying my son.”

Lt-Gen Kamoli further argues that he is not yet a convict and that there is enough security to ensure he returns to prison after the funeral.

“I submit that there is enough security to ensure my safety to the funeral and safe return to the Lesotho Correctional Service after the two hours duration of the burial which is conducted in conformity with Covid-19 protocols and is not attended by many people.

“I am not yet a convict. I am an accused. I am awaiting trial going into the sixth calendar year in detention. The other cases against me shall evidently proceed in the sixth or seventh year of my detention. I submit that the right to attend the burial of my son is not curtailed by my being an accused.

“I must indicate that the prisoners are granted permission sometimes with a court order and sometimes without a court order. I submit that I am not aware of the judicial precedent in terms of which an accused person awaiting trial is refused the opportunity to bury one’s child,” Lt-Gen Kamoli argues.

He therefore wants the court to order “that the applicant be authorised to attend the funeral of his son and should be taken to the burial ceremony for a period of two hours on 24 July 2021 at Ha Leqele in Maseru between 8am and 10am.

“…that he be returned to the Maseru Central Correctional Institution where he is jailed while awaiting trial immediately thereafter.

“…that the Commissioner of LCS is hereby ordered to implement the order above. In the alternative, that the applicant be granted permission to attend the burial ceremony of his late son on such other terms the court may deem fit on the date and time stated above”.

 

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