Nteso family offers prosecution financial help to speed up trial 

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Mohalenyane Phakela

THE family of the slain Lesotho Electricity Company (LEC) internal auditor, Thibello Nteso, is ready to provide financial assistance to the state to ensure that his murder case is heard to finality.

This was said by the late Mr Nteso’s brother, Mr Tankiso Nteso, in an interview with the Lesotho Times this week. Mr Tankiso said this in the aftermath of the Monday decision by High Court judge, Justice Moroke Mokhesi, to postpone to 17 February 2020 the case in which four police officers are accused of murdering Mr Nteso in February 2017.

Justice Mokhesi resolved to postpone the case due to lack of funds to bring in a South African pathologist to testify in the murder trial. The pathologist was hired in 2017 by the family to perform an autopsy on the deceased as part of the family’s quest to fully establish the circumstances surrounding his murder.

Four officers, namely, Police Constable (PC) Moeketsi Dlamini, PC Monaheng ‘Musi, Superintendent Tlali Phatela and Senior Inspector Thaele Ramajoe first appeared in court on 12 January 2018 to face charges of murdering Mr Nteso near the residence of former police commissioner Molahlehi Letsoepa on 6 February 2017.

They also face an additional charge of malicious damage to property for allegedly damaging the deceased’s vehicle.

It is the state case that Dlamini and ’Musi were on guard duty at the home of the then police commissioner Letsoepa in Maseru West on 6 February 2017 when they allegedly shot and killed Mr Nteso.

He was shot once in the hip area and the same bullet also penetrated the other leg.

The constables claimed they had suspected a plot to attack the former police commissioner after they noticed a firearm-holder in the late Mr Nteso’s car which was parked near Mr Letsoepa’s residence.

They fired shots at Mr Nteso’s vehicle at about 9pm that night to stop him as he was driving away from the residence of the LEC corporate secretary who lives near the former police commissioner.

The other two suspects in the murder case, Inspector Ramajoe and Superintendent Phatela, allegedly ordered the cover-up of the murder by tampering with the crime scene.

It is alleged that Mr Nteso was at the corporate secretary’s residence to work on a forensic audit report.   A few days after the shooting, the deceased’s younger brother, Mr Tankiso, told the Lesotho Times that his brother had confided in him that he had been handling a big case of embezzlement of funds from the LEC coffers involving more than M170 million.

In an interview with this publication this week, Mr Tankiso said the family was ready to assist the state to bring in the Durban-based pathologist who performed an autopsy on his deceased brother.

“Two autopsies were performed on my late brother. Both were performed at Queen II Hospital by the government pathologist and by our own private pathologist who is from Durban,” Mr Tankiso said, adding, “The prosecution has found it fit to strengthen their case by bringing the South African pathologist to give evidence in court”.

“However, the prosecution has indicated that the state has no money and therefore requested the postponement of the trial to enable them to look for the funds to bring in the South African pathologist. The judge then gave them the February date. At first we thought it unfair but after the prosecutor explained to us why the postponement was necessary, we fully understood.

“We then offered to foot the costs of bringing the pathologist to Lesotho because we want to ensure that the case does not get postponed again in February next year… We believe that the government will still not have the money. If they need to reimburse us at a later stage, that can be arranged but we are ready to cater for the pathologist’s expenses to enable him to come and give evidence. The prosecutor promised to look into our offer and get back to us.”

On his part, the accused’s lawyer, Advocate Lebohang Ramakhula, told this publication that the postponement of the case was a blow for his clients who wanted it to be expedited.

“The crown is yet to serve us with the written statement of the said pathologist who will be brought from South Africa. This postponement is a blow for my clients as we want this case to be concluded so that we know the way forward. The good thing is that they (clients) have not been suspended from work even though the nine months postponement is a long time.

“The trial had been scheduled for this whole week but when the crown asked for its postponement to another date, Justice Mokhesi said his diary was full and the next opening would only be in February 2020,” Adv Ramakhula said.

 

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