THE trial of former army commander, Tlali Kamoli, and eight other soldiers accused of murdering army commander Maaparankoe Mahao has been postponed to 11 April 2022.
The trial had initially been scheduled for Monday but this was not to be due to the Lesotho Electricity Company (LEC)’s decision to switch off power to the High Court over a M1, 4 million electricity bill.
Power was disconnected on 28 March 2022 and was only reconnected on Tuesday after the judiciary paid more than M1, 2 million to the LEC. But by then, it was already too late for the Mahao trial to proceed.
The High Court’s information officer, Nthabiseng Mohaele, this week confirmed the Mahao trial had failed to proceed due to the power issue. It had been moved to 11 April 2022.
“The cases which had been scheduled for Monday and Tuesday had to be moved because we were not sure when the power would be back. Power was only restored around lunchtime on Tuesday and it was already late for the trials to begin,” Ms Mohale said.
The trial is before Judge Charles Hungwe. Lieutenant General (Lt-Gen) Kamoli’s co-accused are Captain Litekanyo Nyakane, Captain Haleo Makara, Sergeant Lekhooa Moepi, Sergeant Motsamai Fako, Corporal Marasi ‘Moleli, Corporal Motšoane Machai, Corporal Mohlalefi Seitlheko and Corporal Tšitso Ramoholi.
The nine are accused of murdering Lt-Gen Mahao on 25 June 2015 in Mokema, Maseru. They are also accused of the attempted murder of Lt-Gen Mahao’s nephews, Mahao Mahao and Mabilikoe Leuta, by shooting inside a vehicle in which they were passengers.
They are accused of damaging Lt-Gen Mahao’s vehicle, a white Nissan half-truck, by firing at it with an automatic rifle.
Lt-Gen Kamoli is also accused of the theft of Lt-Gen Mahao’s 9mm pistol and Samsung Galaxy mobile phone.
Meanwhile, High Court and Court of Appeal Registrar, ‘Mathato Sekoai, said the judiciary had paid about M1, 2 million towards settling the M1, 4 million LEC debt.
“The outstanding debt which brought about the disconnection to each court is as follows: The High Court owed M656 860, 37 and the Commercial Court owed M734 582, 29 which totaled to M1 391 442, 70.
“The judiciary has to date been able to make the following payments towards the above debt: M123 570, 26 on 9 March 2022, another M330 640 on the 24 March 2022 and M798 930 on 31 March 2022 which totaled M1 253 140, 26.
“The above record leaves the judiciary with a net balance of M138 302, 44 which we undertake to settle in the next financial year. It is against the above background that you are requested to reconnect power to the courts,” Advocate Sekoai states in her 31 March 2022 letter to LEC Managing Director, Mohato Seleke.
Lt-Gen Kamoli’s lawyer, Letuka Molati, bemoaned the postponement of the trial, saying it would cause the accused “serious financial prejudice” as they had already booked lawyers for this week.
“The accused persons have suffered serious financial prejudice. They already paid to book lawyers for this week and the postponement means they will have to pay to book them for next week.
“In addition, there has been serious disturbances to the flow of the case as future trial dates will have to be secured at a great inconvenience to the lawyers as well.
“The financial suffering that has been seen is immeasurable. It is a futile exercise to sue the government for compensation because it takes a long time to get payment. One can only hope that this will not happen again in future,” Adv Letuka said.