Kidnappers appeal against conviction

MASERU — Two women who were last month slapped with 15-year jail terms for kidnapping a baby this week appealed for bail in a fresh twist to the saga.

‘Maselebalo Ntaopane and ‘Mathuso Ntiisa were convicted and jailed last month for kidnapping a week-old baby in Motse-Mocha. 

But in a new twist to the case Ntaopane and Ntiisa have appealed against the sentence.

They argue that the magistrate, ‘Makampong Mokhoro, misdirected herself in handling their case.

A lawyer representing the two women, Advocate Molefi Masoabi, told the Lesotho Times this week that he intends to file an application for bail pending an appeal at the High Court.

Masoabi claimed that “the magistrate misdirected herself in ignoring that the case was badly conducted commencing with investigations and evidence before court”.

The defence team has also claimed that the magistrate erred in dismissing evidence that the exhibits taken from Ntaopane which the police said connected her to the offence were not handed over as evidence in court.

The exhibits comprised a doek and  shoes.

“Even the LMPS (Lesotho Mounted Police Service) form in which the said exhibits were filled was not handed in court as evidence,” Masoabi said.

“At the same time the magistrate misdirected herself in dismissing that the complainant, Mahali Kotoka, as well as her sisters did not know the visitor at their home that night.

“The complainant and her sisters failed to tell the people who had gathered at their home that night as to who the visitor who was at their home was,” Masoabi said.

Masoabi said the complainant and her sisters only did so when they saw Ntaopane appearing in court while she was already in police custody.

“The Mabote police did not do their investigations thoroughly. This was shown by police Constable Koikoi who told the court he had not arrested the accused.

“(He said) he had taken them from their home to the police station for their safety.

“But he ended up charging them without further investigations,” Masoabi said. 

The baby was kidnapped on the night of January 30, 2010 and has still not been found.

The baby was left in the company of Kotoka’s two young sisters when the 22-year-old mother went to fetch some water.

The court heard that Ntaopane arrived at the home of the complainant on January 30.

She then sent away the girls who were looking after the baby, took the baby and left. At the end of the trial, the court ruled the crown had proved its case beyond doubt and convicted the two women for kidnapping.

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