Lawyer says cop shot suspect in self-defence

MASERU — A lawyer representing a police officer told the High Court on Tuesday that his client shot and killed an armed robbery suspect in self-defence.
Advocate Mosoeunyane Masiphole told the court that his client, Mothobi Moholi, shot and killed Thabiso Shao in self-defence.
Shao was arrested by the police at Crocodile Inn in Butha-Buthe on 1 July 1995 for suspected armed robbery. Shao however drew a knife and stabbed Moholi on the chest.
Masiphole said his client only shot  Shao  after he realised that his life was in danger.
“The accused had to shoot the deceased in self-defence as his life was in immediate danger,” Masiphole told the court.
The lawyer argued that the court should discharge his client adding that the crown had failed to prove that there was a prima facie case against his client.
“We submit that the court might not convict the accused on the charge of murder based on the (facts) regarding this case. It is trite law that at this juncture the application of discharge be granted,” Masiphole said.
He said evidence presented by a police officer, Remaketse Hlaele, was contradictory and should not be relied upon to reach a verdict.
He said in contrast, his client’s story was truthful and credible.
“He (Moholi) was called by his colleagues to look for Shao who was suspected of armed robbery.
“They proceeded to Crocodile Inn and Hlaele saw Shao entering the private bar where there was a concert.
“The accused went to Shao and told him that he was under arrest. Shao told him that he could not be arrested,” Masiphole said.
He said his client only shot Shao after it was clear that his life was in danger.
“I submit that the accused did not exceed the bounds of self-defence. Taking this into consideration the court cannot convict him of murder or culpable homicide,” Masiphole said.
“If he had exceeded the bounds of private defence, he would be convicted of culpable homicide. He shot at the deceased in self-defence. This is a clear case of justifiable homicide,” he said.
He said there was no prima facie case put by the crown for the accused to answer.
“The evidence of Detective Inspector Ntlama cannot be relied upon as it is not credible. He admitted that he is not an expert and had no qualifications to show that the deceased was shot from the back,” he said.
Masiphole said a doctor who testified in the matter could also not be relied upon as he had formed an opinion based on a post-mortem report which was done by another doctor.
Crown counsel, Advocate Sefako Seema, said the court should determine first whether there is a prima facie case against the accused.
He said all the issues raised by the defence lawyer would be relevant when the case is closed.
He said the state had proved beyond all reasonable doubt that the accused had a case to answer.
Justice Teboho Moiloa is expected to deliver judgment on the matter on Monday.

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