No trial without Mokaloba: Kamoli

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Mohalenyane Phakela

ATTEMPTED murder-accused former army commander, Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli, yesterday demanded the postponement of his trial until the prosecution pronounces itself on his allegations concerning Major General Ramanka Mokaloba.

Lt-Gen Kamoli has denied attempted murder charges in connection with the 27 January 2014 simultaneous bombings of the Moshoeshoe II homes of First Lady Maesaiah Thabane and her then neighbour, ‘Mamoshoeshoe Moletsane, as well as the Ha Abia residence of former police commissioner, Khothatso Tšooana.

He accuses Major-Gen Mokaloba of masterminding the bombings and wants the state to say whether or not it will add the former to the list of the accused or alternatively turn him into a state witness.

He has asked the state to pronounce itself on the matter during his two previous court appearances. And with the trial expected to get underway on 6 November 2019, his lawyer, Advocate Letuka Molati, repeated the demand during Lt-Gen Kamoli’s court appearance along with his co-accused, Major Pitso Ramoepana, Captain Litekanyo Nyakane, Sergeant Malefane Heqoa and Corporal Mohlalefi Seitlheko.

Adv Molati told High Court judge, Justice Kabelo Lebotse that there was no way the trial should be allowed to go ahead without Major-Gen Mokaloba who Lt-Gen Kamoli places at the centre of the bombing incidents.

“To date, there is no statement from Ramanka Mokaloba amongst the witness statements we received from the prosecution and this trial will not go anywhere without him,” Adv Molati said.

“I notify the court that come trial date, we will argue that the case should not proceed until the prosecution pronounces itself on Mokaloba as the person who my client says was responsible for bombing the said places.”

Justice Lebotse replied by saying that it was “premature to deal with evidence before the actual trial starts”.

“You are a lawyer Mr Molati and you know which legal procedures you need to follow and until the trial starts I will not comment on that,” Justice Lebotse said.

During a previous court appearance, Adv Molati told the court that Lt-Gen Kamoli said he was not guilty of the 2014 bombings and blamed Major-Gen Mokaloba instead.

“My client says I should tell the court that it was not him but one, Ramanka Mokaloba, who bombed the houses in question.

“I (Molati) would never level such accusations against Mokaloba as I am afraid of him but my client says he is not. He says that even when he takes the stand during the trial he will still tell the court that Mokaloba is the one who executed the bombings not him (Kamoli),” Adv Molati said during the previous appearance on 26 September 2019.

On that day, Justice Lebotse advised Adv Molati to discuss the issue with the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Yesterday, Crown Counsel, Adv Naki Nku, confirmed meeting with Adv Molati but said they failed to agree on anything regarding Major-Gen Mokaloba.

“I confirm that we met with Adv Molati but we failed to agree on anything regarding Major-Gen Mokaloba,” Adv Nku told the court.

Justice Lebotse then said Adv Molati would have to give evidence once the trial gets underway.

Major-Gen Mokaloba has already been quizzed by the police over murder and attempted murder cases involving Lt-Gen Kamoli.

In November 2017, Insp-Gen Mokaloba was quizzed by the police over the 27 January 2014 simultaneous bombings. Again in May 2019, Major General Mokaloba was summoned for questioning over the 30 August 2014 attempted coup which led to the murder of Sub-Inspector Mokheseng Ramahloko, allegedly by members of the LDF.

However, he has not been charged of any offence and he remains among the top LDF officers.

Meanwhile, some murder-accused soldiers are racing against time to find lawyers to represent them or risk going to trial without representation when their trials begin on 4 and 6 November 2019.

In all, 14 serving and former soldiers, including Lt-Gen Kamoli, appeared before Justice Lebotse who set their trial dates.

The soldiers were dumped by their lawyers after they lost their Constitutional Court bid to compel the state to pay their legal costs on 17 September 2019.

Yesterday they appeared in court without representation and told Justice Lebotse that their lawyers had dumped them as they could no longer afford their fees.

Justice Lebotse insisted their trial would go ahead on 4 November 2019 regardless of whether or not they had legal representation.

“Come 4 November, we will continue with the trial with or without lawyers being present. I advised and still continue to encourage you to regularise your legal situation before the trial. Nothing will stop the trial because you failed to explore all avenues.

“Beggars cannot be choosers. When you seek assistance, you do not get to choose a lawyer and then demand that the state pays your fees. The state will give you a lawyer within their basket,” Justice Lebotse said.

The first group had 10 soldiers, namely, Brigadier Rapele Mphaki, Sergeant Lekhooa Moepi, Captain Mahlehle Moeletsi, Lance Corporal Mahlomola Makhoali, Private Nthatakane Motanyane, Motšoane Machai, Tieho Tikiso, Pitso Ramoepana, Liphapang Sefako and Nemase Faso.

They are accused of murdering Lekhoele Noko, Molise Pakela and Khothatso Makibinyane at Setibing in rural Maseru on 16 May 2017.

Major Ramoepana was also in the group of soldiers along with Lt-Gen Kamoli, Captain Litekanyo Nyakane, Sergeant Malefane Heqoa and Corporal Mohlalefi Seitlheko.

They will stand trial on 6 November 2019 for attempted murder in connection with the January 2014 simultaneous bombings of the Moshoeshoe II homes of Ms Thabane and Mr Tšooana.

Of the 14, only Lt-Gen Kamoli, Brigadier Mphaki, Captain Moeletsi, Private Sefako and Private Machai had legal representation.

Private Machai was represented by Adv Mafaesa while the rest were represented by Adv Molati.

Adv Mafaesa however, threatened to withdraw his services if the state did not take over payment of his fees. He said his client could no longer afford to pay him.

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