Scott extradition hearing date set
KOALABATA ritual murder suspect Lehlohonolo Joseph Scott’s bid for freedom has suffered a huge blow after the Durban North Magistrate’s Court denied him bail this week.
The 27-year-old had applied for bail after being arrested during a church service in Amaoti, Inanda, KwaZulu-Natal on 6 April this year.
Scott had been on the run since his dramatic escape from Maseru Central Prison on 13 October 2012, where he was awaiting trial for the alleged killing and mutilation of Moholobela Seetsa (13) and Kamohelo Mohata (22) in January and June 2012, respectively.
He faces the murder charges alongside his mother, ‘Malehlohonolo, who has since been released on bail.
Following his arrest in South Africa, Scott first appeared before the Durban North Magistrate’s Court on 8 April and was remanded in custody until 24 April.
He was back in court again on 15 May to fight for bail and against extradition to Lesotho, with the hearing adjourned to 27 May.
However, Magistrate Vanitha Armu on Tuesday said she could not grant bail because, according to extradition documents provided by the Lesotho government, there was a very strong case against him. Ms Armu’s decision came after Scott’s lawyer, Shamir Goolabjith, had argued the Durban North Magistrate’s Court had no powers to deny his client bail because he was not facing any criminal charge in South Africa.
Advocate Goolabjith had further argued the state was not challenging the authenticity of a South African birth certificate Scott produced in court showing he was born in South Africa, and that his name is Joseph Mokhele.
But the magistrate dismissed the argument after considering the prosecution’s statement that Scott acquired the South African identity document fraudulently.
Prosecutor Blackie Swart had told the court Scott’s declaration that he only lived in Lesotho in 1999 was not true because a letter from his primary school in Koalabata indicated he attended the school from 1996.
Following the denial for bail, Scott was remanded in custody until June 19 when his extradition hearing is due to begin.
Meanwhile, the Public Relations Manager in the Ministry of Law, Human Rights and Constitutional Affairs, ‘Malesaoana Mohale, yesterday told the Lesotho Times Scott’s extradition was now only a matter of time.
“There shall be a substantive application for his extradition, which is expected to be heard in the Magistrate’s Court in Durban on 19 June,” Ms Mohale said.
“But the bail-application will be heard subject to the authorisation of the South African Minister of Justice.