Mojakhomo seeks international protection
THE family of fraud-accused ’Makarabo Mojakhomo has approached Amnesty International in South Africa to ensure her safety after her alleged abduction from police custody and subsequent escape from her captors.
Ms Mojakhomo, who allegedly disappeared from police custody under unclear circumstances in May this year, resurfaced in South Africa last week amid claims that she could have been assisted by some police officers to flee the country.
There had been intense speculation that Ms Mojakhomo might have been murdered after she allegedly disappeared from police custody where she was awaiting trial for allegedly defrauding the First Lady ‘Maesaiah Thabane’s Trust Fund of at least M200 000.
Ms Mojakhomo was last seen by her relatives at the Police Headquarters in Maseru on 30 May 2018 where she was detained for the alleged fraud.
Ms Mojakhomo was arrested on 29 May this year and she was due in court on 31 May. She could not appear in court after the police claimed she had escaped from custody while they were preparing to take her to court.
But Ms Mojakhomo’s family came out guns blazing insisting there was no way that she could have broken out of tightly guarded police cells. The family subsequently petitioned the High Court for an order for the police to produce her dead or alive.
The family cited social media reports that she could have been murdered by the police as one of the reasons for its bid to have her produced before the court.
On 3 July 2018, the Mojakhomo family’s lawyer, Advocate Letuka Molati, asked High Court judge Justice Semapo Peete to give Ms Thabane and the Police minister, ‘Mampho Mokhele a chance to testify before the court as their testimony “would assist the court to reach a conclusion as to whether or not ‘Makarabo escaped from police custody or was made to disappear by the police”.
However, in a recent turn of events last week, Adv Molati wrote to the Police Commissioner, Holomo Molibeli, informing him that Ms Mojakhomo was alive and well. Adv Molati stated that contrary to the police allegations, Ms Mojakhomo did not escape but “she was abducted with the direct help of the police from the police custody”.
“‘Makarabo Mojakhomo has instructed us, as we hereby do state that she did not escape from police custody but that she was abducted with the direct help of the police from the police custody,” Adv Molati wrote in the letter that is dated 30 July 2018. The letter is also copied to Ms Mokhele, the Registrar of the High Court and the Attorney General Haae Phoofolo.
Adv Molati also states in the letter that Ms Mojakhomo had instructed him to inform Commissioner Molibeli that she (Ms Mojakhomo) would only return to Lesotho “when the time is right” to answer to criminal charges.
Adv Molati further states that even he does not know the exact whereabouts of Ms Mojakhomo, adding that the concealing of her exact location was meant to ensure her safety because her because her version of the events of 31 May 2018 – the day she disappeared from police custody- would incriminate “very high-ranking people”.
Amnesty International has still not responded to the questions they requested this publication to send them by email. The human rights organisation was also unreachable by telephone at the time of going to print.
However, a Mojakhomo family member this week told the Lesotho Times that they had stepped up their efforts to ensure that she was safe in South Africa by enlisting the help of Amnesty International.
“We approached them (Amnesty International) because we want to make sure that our sister is kept in a safe place while she awaits her trial as she escaped death by a whisker. We think that her abductors could still go after her lest she spills the beans on how she skipped the country.
“The meeting with Amnesty International was held last Thursday and the reception was good and promising,” said the family member who spoke on condition of anonymity.
On her part, ’Makarabo’s sister, ’Malesole Letsie, this week told the Lesotho Times that the family was eager to ensure “Makarabo’s safe return as we want her to get a fair trial like everyone else as per the constitution”.
“We want justice to be served and if she is in the wrong she will get her punishment. Her disappearance has really caused us a lot of worries and we are happy that she has been found. She is the only one who shall tell how she disappeared.
“We are waiting to hear from her lawyer when she will return. We just can’t wait to see her,” Ms Letsie said.
Last week police Commissioner Molibeli said that the police’s negligence enabled ‘Makarabo to ‘disappear’ from police custody in May.
Commissioner Molibeli said the fact that the suspect was a woman contributed to the police’s complacency as they did not employ the normal full security measures like deploying a heavy guard and handcuffing the suspect as they do when the suspect is male.
He said although they expected her lawyer to facilitate Ms Mojakhomo’s return, they would also make their “own efforts to bring her into the country once we have established her whereabouts”.
This week, police spokesperson Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli told this publication that they were still waiting for ‘Makarabo’s lawyer to hand her over to the police.
“We still have not withdrawn the (missing person) notice that she is a wanted person because we still don’t know her whereabouts,” Supt Mopeli said.