Mofomobe wades into Sakoane-Motinyane row

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. . . blasts chief justice for allegedly plotting to free Kamoli, Metsing, Mochoboroane without trying them.

’Marafaele Mohloboli

CABINET minister and Basotho National Party (BNP) leader, Machesetsa Mofomobe, has accused Chief Justice Sakoane Sakoane of plotting to free treason and murder-accused politicians, Mothetjoa Metsing, Selibe Mochoboroane as well as former army commander, Tlali Kamoli, without even trying them for their alleged crimes.

Mr Mofomobe said his party firmly believed in the rule of law. He said that Messrs Metsing, Mochoboroane, Kamoli and their co-accused should stand trial to finality. Their co-accused are Captain Litekanyo Nyakane, Lance Corporals Motloheloa Ntsane and Leutsoa Motsieloa.

He said this while addressing his party’s supporters at Motimposo, Maseru, early this week.

His comments come in the wake of the recent fallout between Justice Sakoane and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Hlalefang Motinyane, over the treason and murder trial.

There is no love lost between Justice Sakoane and DPP Motinyane ever since the chief justice refused to entertain the DPP’s request to postpone the treason and murder trial due to the fact that the lead prosecutor Shaun Abrahams had other commitments in his native, South Africa.

DPP Motinyane had said that Adv Abrahams would not be available to prosecute the case. Nevertheless, Justice Sakoane went ahead and set 10 to 20 January 2022 as the trail dates.

On 10 January 2022, Adv Abrahams was not present in court as had been indicated. DPP Motinyane had then sought a postponement of the trial. This did not go down well with Justice Sakoane who refused to postpone the case on account of Adv Abrahams who he accused of stalling the trial to focus on “making money in his native South Africa”.

The irate judge refused to entertain her request for the postponement and even warned that he could end up freeing the suspects if the prosecution continued to dilly-dally.

Due to Justice Sakoane’s threats to free the suspects, the DPP had then resolved that Adv ‘Naki Nku would prosecute the case in Adv Abrahams’ absence.

After missing the previous week’s proceedings, Adv Abrahams showed up in court last week on 17 January 2022, ready to resume his role, only for Justice Sakoane to bar him. He said it was “untenable” for Advocate Abrahams, who had been absent from court to suddenly return and take over as lead prosecutor from Adv Nku, who had replaced him in his absence.

Justice Sakoane also charged DPP Motinyane with perjury for “lying” to him that Adv Abrahams would not be available.

Although Justice Sakoane eventually cleared Advocate Motinyane on a technicality that the application had been withdrawn, the matter did not end there. She immediately filed an application for the recusal of the chief justice from presiding over the treason trial. She wanted Justice Sakoane to recuse himself on the grounds that he is “biased” against the prosecution and is unlikely to be impartial when he presides over the very high-profile trial. However, the application was yesterday dismissed by Justice Sakoane on the grounds that DPP Motinyane’s argument that he would be biased were unfounded.

Mr Mofomobe referred to the DPP and chief justice’s fallout when he addressed his supporters early this week.

“Our eyes are wide open when it comes to issues of the courts,” Mr Mofomobe said.

“There are two offices that were established by the constitution and these are the offices of chief justice and Director of Public Prosecutions. Each one is independent and should discharge its mandate as stipulated by the law. As for this thing of letting Mochoboroane and Metsing go free before they are even tried, it is clearly an unacceptable obstruction of the law.

“Other political parties are going to hate us for standing for the truth and principles but we don’t have a problem with that. One of the things that’s going to make people hate us is that we don’t agree that people who have committed crimes should be allowed to go free without being tried in the courts of law. But we cannot deviate from our cardinal principles. Metsing and Mochoboroane should go to court and answer for their actions.

“The law should apply to everyone without any favour. If I were to be accused of a crime, I should also be held accountable. I should go to court alone and not drag my party supporters to follow me there like what these other party leaders are doing. Why should they involve their supporters when they committed those crimes alone?”

Contacted for comment, Mr Mochoboroane said he would not be dragged into Mr Mofomobe’s “cheap and dirty politics”.

“There are respectable men and women of integrity in politics whom I can argue with and very fortunately, Mofomobe isn’t one of them. I have better things to do with my time,” Mr Mochoboroane said in a brief interview this week.

LCD spokesperson Apesi Ratšele said Mr Mofomobe should stop meddling in  court  affairs.

“Mr Mofomobe should stop sticking his nose in the business of the courts. The judiciary is independent and its officers know what they are doing. Besides, he has a fair share of dirt on his hands. So, he should just stop sticking his nose where it doesn’t belong,” Mr Ratšele said.

Meanwhile, Mr Mofomobe said in the event his party won the elections (which are due anytime from September this year), they would come up with a clear economic recovery plan to uplift the lives of Basotho.

Among other things, they would tackle high unemployment and reclaim some sectors of the economy that are currently in Chinese hands.

“This year we are going for elections and we will bring solutions to Basotho’s problems. Some of these solutions will be very harsh to some people.

“Firstly, we are going to come up with a clear economy recovery plan and secondly we will address youth unemployment.

“Businesses will be taken back and placed in the hands of Basotho. When we do this, there will be friction with the Chinese. But we have to do it because they don’t even have bank accounts in Lesotho and every day they make wire transfers, taking money out of Lesotho.

“We are going take some businesses, such as the retail shops, away from them and leave them to run the factories.  We already know that we are going to have a problem because those parties that have been captured by the Chinese will stand in our way, Mr Mofomobe said.

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