Mahao murder trial finally begins

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Mohalenyane Phakela

FORMER army commander Tlali Kamoli and eight other soldiers’ trial for the June 2015 murder of army commander Maaparankoe Mahao will finally get underway today.

The trial had been expected to begin on Tuesday with the state calling its first witness to the stand. However, it was postponed by Zimbabwean Judge Charles Hungwe to allow two of the accused soldiers, Corporals Marasi ‘Moleli and Mohlalefi Seitlheko, to find a new lawyer to represent them.

Although the crown was ready to call its first witness on Tuesday, the matter failed to proceed after the duo’s lawyer, Advocate Zwelakhe Mda, withdrew from the case.

Corporals Marasi and Seitlheko, Lieutenant General (Lt-Gen) Kamoli are accused alongside Captain Litekanyo Nyakane, Captain Haleo Makara, Sergeant Lekhooa Moepi, Sergeant Motsamai Fako, Corporals Motšoane Machai and Corporal Tšitso Ramoholi.

Lt-Gen Kamoli is represented by Adv Letuka Molati, Captains Nyakane and Makara by Adv Silas Ratau, Sergeant Moepi by Attorney Qhalehang Letsika, Sergeant Fako and Corporal Ramoholi by Adv Napo Mafaesa.

Just as the case was about to begin on Tuesday, Adv Mafaesa told the court that he had just communicated with Adv Mda who told him that he was ill-disposed and even if he had been in court, it would have been to withdraw from the case. Adv Mafaesa did not say why Adv Mda had withdrawn from the case.

Justice Hungwe then adjourned the matter for about an hour to allow the office of the High Court registrar to appoint a lawyer for Corporals ‘Moleli and Seitlheko.

Upon the resumption of proceedings, Adv Mafaesa told the court that he had been approached by the officer of the registrar to take over the representation of Adv Mda’s clients and he had agreed.

“I was approached by the (Assistant) Registrar (Edward Maiketso) to take over the brief of Messrs ‘Moleli and Seitlheko,” Adv Mafaesa told the court.

“I do not have a problem representing them provided the court will allow me to consult with my new clients. I ask that I be given a day to do so,” Adv Mafaesa added.

Justice Hungwe duly postponed the matter to today.

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