Public Eye columnist claims torture

MASERU — The trial of former Public Eye newspaper columnist Tukula Makhake who is facing charges of armed robbery took a dramatic twist on Tuesday after he claimed he was tortured to force him to confess.

Magistrate Molemo Monethi on Tuesday granted an application by the defence for a trial-within-a-trial to establish whether Makhakhe’s confession was admissible.

Makhakhe on March 23 allegedly confessed to committing the crime when he appeared before magistrate Palesa Rantara.

He however later rejected the confession arguing it had been made under duress.

Makhakhe, Karabo Thulo, Lira Tsilo are facing charges of robbing Lineo Mokono of M120 000 at Ha ‘Nelese in Maseru on March 19, 2010.

The three have denied the charge.

Earlier on Monday, Magistrate Rantara told the court that Makhakhe had made a confession in her office

She said Makhakhe had told her that he “had come to confess as a sign of his remorse for what he had done”.

“I cautioned him that he was free to say all he wanted to say before a magistrate and he never said he was somehow assaulted,” Rantara said.

Rantara added that Makhakhe did not show any signs that he had been assaulted.

She said if he had told her that he had been assaulted she would not have accepted his confession.

“I took that confession because I was convinced he did so voluntarily and of his own volition,” Rantara said.

When cross-examined by Advocate Lebohang Matsoso, Rantara said she was not in a position to explain what had happened at the police station.

She said she could only explain what had happened before her regarding the confession.

“I have no knowledge of what happened at the police station,” she said.

When it was suggested that Makhakhe came to make the confession because he had been assaulted, the magistrate said she had also asked Makhakhe if he was confessing because of any assault.

She said Makhakhe had denied ever being assaulted by the police.

Cross-examined by prosecutor Gcinimuzi Tshabalala yesterday, Makhakhe said he was arrested on March 19, 2010 at Sea Point in Ha Lemeke.

He said after his arrest he was taken to Airfield Police Station in Maseru where he was squeezed into a locker and beaten.

The case was adjourned to August 5 to allow Makhakhe and his co-accused to call their witnesses.

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