Phohleli murder trial postponed

MASERU — The trial of four men who are facing seven counts of murder was yesterday postponed to today after one of the lawyers withdrew his instructions.

The court postponed the case to allow one of the accused who is changing his plea to find another lawyer.

The four — Tello Mabusela, Mareka Nthejane, Thabiso Sephula and Seabata Ramohajane — are facing seven counts of murder.

They are being accused of killing former Astoria Bakery managing director Thabo Phohleli, Thabang Malikoe, and ‘Malerato Malikoe last year.

The incidents happened on September 5, September 27 and October 17, 2010 at Lithoteng Ha Seoli, Ha Tikoe and Ha Ramatsa in Maseru district.

The four are also accused of armed robbery, illegal possession of firearms and attempted murder.

But the trial failed to proceed yesterday after Advocate Thulo Hoeane told the trial judge Justice Thamsanqa Nomngcongo that he was withdrawing from representing one of the accused, Seabata Ramohajane, because of possible conflict of interest.

“I find myself in a position where I have to withdraw my instructions from Ramohajane, who is accused two,” said Hoeane who is also representing Tello Mabusela.

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Leaba Thetsane, said after the prosecution witness Thabang Kotelo had testified for the state as an accomplice, Ramohajane had told his lawyer that he wanted to change his plea.

At the beginning of the trial all the accused had pleaded not guilty to the charges.

This according to the DPP “creates a possible conflict of interest because his counsel (Hoeane) cannot represent two people who have pleaded differently”. 

The trial is expected to continue today.

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