Sakoane’s illness stalls Metsing, Mochoboroane case

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Mohalenyane Phakela

POLITICIANS, Mothetjoa Metsing and Selibe Mochoboroane’s application to stop the state from joining them to the treason and murder trial alongside former army commander Tlali Kamoli and others had to be postponed to 31 August 2021. This as a result of the unavailability of Chief Justice Sakoane Sakoane who is said to be suffering from an undisclosed illness.

Messrs Metsing and Mochoboroane argue that they cannot be summarily joined to the treason and murder trial. They argue that they cannot be tried in the High Court without first being remanded in the magistrates’ court as demanded by the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act.

Justice Sakoane began hearing both the defence and prosecution arguments last week before adjourning proceedings to this Tuesday.

On Tuesday, Crown counsel Shaun Abrahams and the two politicians’ lawyer, Motiea Teele were already at the courts by 9am with the aim of continuing with the case.

They went into the courtroom only to emerge a short while later with Advocate Teele saying another High Court judge, Tšeliso Monapathi, had informed them that the case had been postponed to 31 August due to Justice Sakoane’s ill-health.

Messrs Metsing and Mochoboroane initially filed a High Court application in December 2020 challenging the decision to join them to the trial. But Justice Sakoane declined to make a ruling and referred the matter back to the then trial Judge Onkemetse Tshosa. Justice Sakoane ruled that only Justice Tshosa had the jurisdiction to determine Messrs Metsing and Mochoboroane’s application. Unhappy with the decision, the duo then appealed to the Court of Appeal.

In the apex court, they also challenged the Constitutional Court’s November 2020 judgement outlawing clause 10 of the October 2018 SADC-brokered government-opposition agreement which sought to shield them and other politicians from prosecution until after the implementation of the multi-sector reforms.

In the Court of Appeal’s 14 May 2021 judgement read out by its president, Justice Kananelo Mosito, the apex court said it had resolved to dismiss Messrs Metsing and Mochoboroane’s appeal against the Constitutional Court verdict on the grounds that the duo had merely brought before them a case which was “based on issues that had been decided before by the courts”.

The court also upheld Justice Sakoane’s decision that only the trial had the jurisdiction to determine whether or not they could not be joined to the treason and murder trial without first being remanded in the magistrates’ court.

They subsequently filed an application before Justice Tshosa just as they had been ordered by Justice Sakoane back in February. But following his resignation from the High Court bench for “personal reasons” on 1 August 2021, their application is now being handled by Justice Sakoane.

Messrs Metsing and Mochoboroane’s application has caused the postponement of the treason and murder trial. The trial was supposed to start on 11 June 2021 and Lieutenant General (Lt-Gen) Kamoli and his three co-accused soldiers were in court on that day.

The three co-accused soldiers are Captain Litekanyo Nyakane and Lance Corporals Motloheloa Ntsane and Leutsoa Motsieloa.

The treason charges are in connection with the 30 August 2014 attempted coup against the first government of former Prime Minister Thomas Thabane.

The murder case is in connection with the killing of Police Sub-Inspector Mokheseng Ramahloko which occurred during the same attempted coup against Mr Thabane’s government on 30 August 2014.

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