Murder accused soldiers plead “not guilty”

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Mohalenyane Phakela

LESOTHO Defence Force (LDF)’s Captain, Litekanyo Nyakane, and four other soldiers, who are being tried for the 2012 murder of three Mafeteng civilians, have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Captain Nyakane’s co-accused are Lance Corporals Khauhelo Makoae and Sebilo Sebilo as well as Privates Tšepo Tlakeli and Thebe Tšepe.

They stand accused of murdering Thabang Mosole, Monyane Matsie and Pakiso Ntala Letatabe at Ha-Motanyane, Mafeteng, in 2012.

The quintet appeared before Justice Polo Banyane on Monday. Justice Banyane read the charge sheet in which the five are facing three counts of murdering Messrs Mosole, Matsie and Letatabe.

Captain Nyakane is represented by Advocate Karabo Mohau, Lance Corporal Makoae and Private Thakeli by Adv Motjantji Kao, Lance Corporal Sebilo by Adv Zwelakhe Mda and Private Tšepe by Adv Napo Mafaesa.

The five accused soldiers pleaded “not guilty” to the three counts of murder.

The trial had been set down to proceed from Monday until 15 December 2021. However, the prosecutor, Adv Mosoeunyane Masiphole, told the court he was unwell and therefore asked Justice Banyane for leave to halt the proceedings to allow him to seek medical attention.

Although Adv Masiphole and the defence had conferred and agreed to ask the court to defer the matter to today, that did not go down well with Justice Banyane who is eager to have the matter finalised.

“I want to express my dissatisfaction with the proposed postponements. We had agreed that we would proceed until 15 December 2021 and this is unfair to other litigants whose cases had to be halted as these matters (high profile cases) need to be given priority,” Justice Banyane said.

Justice Banyane ordered Adv Masiphole to present to her a medical leave from the doctor by end of business on Monday which he did.

Adv Mohau also told the court that he would be unavailable for the whole of next week as he would be committed to another trial which has long been set down. Justice Banyane also ordered him to report to court if the said case did not proceed so that Captain Nyakane and his co-accused’s case can continue.

The trial was therefore, postponed to tomorrow. It will then continue from 13 to 15 December 2021.

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