Khetheng murder accused sweats on bail
A SENIOR police officer who is facing a charge of murdering Police Constable (PC), Mokalekale Khetheng, will have to wait for another two weeks to know if he qualifies to be released on bail.
Senior Superintendent, Thabo Tšukulu, is facing murder charges along with Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) deputy leader and former Defence Minister, Tšeliso Mokhosi, and three other police officers.
High Court judge, Justice Semapo Peete, on Monday reserved judgment to 20 October, 2017 after SSP Tšukulu’s lawyer and the prosecution completed their arguments on his bail application.
During the argument the lawyer representing the crown, Advocate Motšei Tlali, opposed SSP Tšukulu’s application on the grounds that he would abscond considering the seriousness of the charge he was facing.
“The first witness (Sergeant Pakiso Thamae) told this honourable court that, among other things, his opposition to this bail application is based on the fact that he considers the petitioner a flight risk,” Advocate Tlali argued.
“No petitioner would come before this court and tell the court that he would abscond if released on bail but they normally do so after being granted bail. This is why courts take into consideration the gravity of the offence one is alleged to have committed.
“It is common cause that section 40, subsection two of the Penal Code Act, under which the petitioner stands charged attracts a capital sentence (death penalty).”
Advocate Tlali also argued that the prosecution was of the view that if granted bail, SSP Tšukulu would interfere with potential witnesses.
“If granted bail, he will interfere with crown witnesses. Detective Police Constable Ntoane testified to this court that he is a potential witness in the trial. He says he knows the petitioner very well. He says at some stage the petitioner influenced him to give false evidence regarding the disappearance of Khetheng.
“He says he fears for his life if the petition is released on bail. This court should not risk the life of PW2 (Ntoane) by granting the petitioner bail. It is the duty of this court to protect those witnesses under these circumstances.”
Advocate Tlali said it was normal for a suspect to be denied bail even if his co-accused had been released on bail.
He was dismissing SSP Tšukulu’s claim that he would be traumatised if not released on bail yet his co-accused, Mr Mokhosi, was released on bail.
For his part, SSP Tšukulu’s lawyer, Advocate Karabo Mohau KC, said the prosecution did not even give a summary of the nature of offence the petitioner was facing.
“No case has been shown against the petitioner. It has never been demonstrated what the accused has done in the commission of the offence,” Advocate Mohau said, adding bail was necessary to enable his client to prepare his defence as he did not have access to his personal written materials, which included his diary while in prison.
He further said his client would not flee because of his long service in the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) and personal property that he could not abandon.
“He responded positively to the order that he should report to the police when he was arrested.
“It has been suggested that the charge the accused is facing is an incentive for him to flee.
“The mere fact that murder charge attracts capital punishment only exists in books, because the last person to be hanged was hanged in 1995. The death penalty only exists in books not in reality.”
He said denying SSP Tšukulu bail “would be against the interests of justice as he is presumed innocent until proven guilty”.
“I have confidence in this court that it will distance itself from media noises and other noises, but only stick to the law.”
Justice Peete reserved judgment to the 20th October, 2017.
SSP Tšukulu is charged along with Mr Mokhosi, Senior Inspector Mabitle Matona (39) of Butha-Buthe, Ha Nqabeni, Sub Inspector Haleokoe Taasoane (44) of Liphofung Mokhotlong and Inspector Mothibeli Mofolo (49).
They first appeared before the Magistrate’s Court on 8 August, 2017 charged with contravening Section 40 (1) of the Penal Code No. 6 of 2010.
According to the charge sheet, they performed “an unlawful act or omission with the intention of causing the death” of PC Khetheng on 26 March 2016 in Ha-Mokhalinyane, Maseru district.