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Police officer’s plea against conviction flops

by Lesotho Times
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MASERU — A junior police officer’s appeal against conviction on sedition charges has failed after the Court of Appeal dismissed his plea.

Mojalefa Phumane, together with 32 other junior police officers, was accused of engaging in mutinous acts during a police general strike in 1997.

Phumane was charged with high treason or alternatively sedition under the Internal Security Act of 1984.

On July 20, 2000, Phumane was however acquitted on the count of treason.

He was however convicted on the sedition charge and sentenced to one year imprisonment which was wholly suspended for three years.

In August 2000, Phumane appealed against the conviction.

The case could however not be heard after the record of proceedings at the High Court could not be found.

Phumane wanted the whole proceedings of the High Court where he was convicted to be set aside.

He argued that the crown had “dismally failed to prepare a court record of the proceedings and make it available to the applicant to prosecute his appeal.”

He argued that “the conviction and sentence of the applicant be set aside on account of the crown’s dismal failure to perform its mandatory duty of preparing court record and make it available to the appellant.”

The director of public prosecutions, Leaba Thetsane, has however argued that the matter should be heard “on the limited record produced by the crown.”

He also argued that the matter should be adjourned for hearing to the next session of the Court of Appeal.

In his ruling, the president of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ramodibedi, said he found “the counter-claim by the learned Director of Public Prosecutions unanswerable.”

“This is more so especially in view of his assurance that the appeal can now reasonably be heard on the limited record. I consider that it is in the interests of justice to adjourn the matter to the next session,” Justice Ramodibedi said.

Justice Ramodibedi ordered the crown to produce the limited record in the matter and serve it to the applicant before 30 April 2009.

The applicant was also asked to make inputs to the record before 31 May failing which the matter will be heard on the limited record produced by the crown.



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