Moramotse takes the stand in son’s murder trial

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  • but insists he is not aware of son’s involvement in the crime

Moorosi Tsiane

LOCAL Government and Chieftainship Affairs Minister, Lehlohonolo Moramotse, has bizarrely claimed that he is not even aware that his son, Thabo, had been arrested and charged with the 22 June 2016 murder of the minister’s daughter-in-law, ‘Mateboho Moramotse, in Lower Seoli, Maseru.

This is despite that the murder case and his son’s arrest have been widely reported and are well known issues.

The slain ‘Mateboho, who was shot dead as she drove into the family’s residence, was wife to Thabo’s younger brother, Nduma.  The state alleges that Thabo murdered ‘Mateboho because he suspected her of having an illicit affair with his father, Mr Moramotse.

Thabo and Nduma are both sons of Mr Moramotse, the ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC)’s legislator for the Lithoteng constituency. Mr Moramotse is a state witness along with Nduma in the murder case.

Testifying on Tuesday, Mr Moramotse said he was not even aware that his son had been arrested in connection with the murder.  The minister’s remarks were puzzling since Thabo’s arrest over the murder case and his subsequent flight from justice are a matter of public record.

“I am not aware that the accused (Thabo) is charged with murder as the police never informed me about that,” Mr Moramotse said.

“During the investigations the police came to my house several times but never told me of any suspect who had been arrested. I’m not aware that the accused and two other people who are now dead were charged with the murder of my daughter-in-law. I only learned of it when I got here (court).”

Mr Moramotse said on that fateful day in June 2016, he had been in his house with his wife, his daughter Nthabeleng, and Nduma. He said Nthabeleng was having her hair plaited by someone she had invited to the house.

He said they heard a gunshot and a short while later, someone came in to inform them that ‘Mateboho had been shot.

“I was in my house with the deceased’s husband Nduma, my wife, my daughter Nthabeleng Moramotse-Letsie and another person who was doing her hair. It was around 19:30pm when we heard a gunshot not far from our house. I was confused. Shortly thereafter, we heard someone hastily knocking at the door and it was one of Nduma’s agemates.

“They had jumped over the wall as the gates were closed. They told Nduma that his wife ‘Mateboho had been shot. Nduma and I went out and found the deceased in her red BMW station wagon car. She had been shot. The car was about 15 to 20 metres from our home. The vehicle had been shot at on the driver’s window and the deceased’s head was bent over inside the car. Nduma took her in another car to hospital. I couldn’t make out the injuries on her but I saw blood on a blanket she was wearing.

“We were in a hurry to get her saved. I later received a call from Nduma saying that his wife had died. I informed the in-laws and the next day we met and arranged the funeral service which took place at my home. Since that time, I have been waiting for the police to inform me that the murderers have been arrested,” Mr Moramotse said.

Although ‘Mateboho was murdered in 2016, Thabo was only arrested in August 2020. His co-accused Tekane Tekane and Pako Sekhonyana are now deceased. It is not clear when they both passed away but their deaths left Thabo as the only suspect. The state believes the two were murdered to foil the case.

Thabo had fled the country to avoid trial after his appearance in court for his routine remand on 14 September 2020.

The trial had initially been set for 21 September 2020 but it failed to proceed due to Thabo’s absence. On that day, Justice Hungwe issued a warrant for Thabo’s arrest and postponed the trial to 19 October 2020.

Still, Thabo was nowhere to be found and Justice Hungwe then set 16 to 30 March 2021 as the new trial dates.

Again, on those dates, Thabo could not be found. The trial was finally able to begin this week after Thabo handed himself to the police who subsequently arrested him. He was in court in leg irons. He sat in the dock as his father bizarrely testified that he was not even aware that he was an accused in the case.

Senior Superintendent Tsietsi Janki confirmed to the court that Thabo had handed himself over at the Pitso Ground Police Station. He did not say when Thabo handed himself.

“He (Thabo) handed himself over. He said he had been informed that I had been looking for him. I cautioned him and arrested him,” Senior Supt Janki said. The case is expected to continue today with the reading of witness statements.

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