MASERU — Veteran Radio Lesotho presenter, Motlatsi Ncholu, who was facing a charge of sexual harassment, is finally a free man after the crown lost interest in prosecuting his case.
Ncholu was charged with unlawfully, wrongfully and intentionally committing a sexual act with a 15-year-old girl by fondling her at Quthing, about 152 kilometres south of Maseru.
The crime allegedly happened in July 2007 when they were on their way to Durban, South Africa.
He was in March 2008 subsequently found guilty and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
He however appealed against the sentence and applied for a review of his case in the High Court.
The High Court last May ordered that the case should start afresh within the following three months.
Ncholu argued in his appeal that his conviction had been based on a misdirection by the magistrate’s court during the court proceedings.
The prosecution did not prosecute the case until Ncholu filed an application on November 23 last year in the High Court seeking the court to quash his sexual harassment charges.
He argued that the prosecution had failed to prosecute him within the three months stipulated by the High Court last year.
High Court Judge Kelello Guni on Monday set Ncholu free after the prosecution failed to take up the case.
“Application is granted in terms of the notice of motion because the crown has failed to file opposing papers,” Justice Guni ordered.
In his affidavit Ncholu had asked that the charges against him be dismissed or permanently stayed because the crown had failed to prosecute him within the stipulated time in accordance with the High Court order.
“Prosecution ought to have prosecuted the case on or before the last day of the three months period given by this honourable court as it appears to be a reasonable time within which I ought to have been tried as I was formally charged and I still stand as an accused person who does not know his fate.
“Since the granting of the said order prosecution has failed to prosecute the case against me and I still stand to be the accused to my detriment as that is in great violation of my fundamental right enshrined in the constitution to be tried within a reasonable time.
“I pray that the charges against me in CR/326/07 at magistrate’s court in Quthing be dismissed or permanently stayed,” Ncholu said.
Guni’s judgment means that Ncholu is now a free man after the prosecution failed to prosecute his case.
“The respondents (Director of Public Prosecutions Leaba Thetsane and Attorney General Ts’okolo Makhethe) herein [are] permanently barred from prosecuting applicant (Ncholu) in the said case,” the notice of motion read.
The prosecution also failed to file papers in court to show why the charges against Ncholu could not be permanently quashed.