Scott trial to start afresh after SA bungle

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Lekhetho Ntsukunyane

scottThe trial of double murder suspect, Lehlohonolo Scott, who is fighting extradition from South Africa, is set to start all over again.

This comes after it emerged the case, which had been before the Durban North Magistrate’s Court since April 2014, was being heard by the “wrong court” which does not have jurisdiction to deal with the matter.

Public Prosecutor V Moodley, on 9 March 2015, said Scott’s case should be before the Verulam Magistrate’s Court, which is about 25 kilometers from Durban North, but still in the KwaZulu-Natal province.

Ms Moodley, who took over the case from the retired Blackie Swart, explained after studying the case, she had realised when Scott was arrested by the South African police on 6 April 2014, he was in an area under the jurisdiction of Verulam and not Durban North Magistrate’s Court.

She argued if the case continued in the Durban North Magistrate’s Court and judgment was in favour of the prosecution, Scott could appeal on the grounds he had been convicted in the wrong court.

Following this notification, Magistrate Vanitha Armu has since struck the case off the Durban North Magistrate’s Court roll and transferred the matter to Verulam Magistrate’s Court “for a fresh start.”

Advocate Nel, who is heading the prosecution, on Tuesday told the Lesotho Times that it was “only procedural that the matter starts afresh in the right court with jurisdiction to preside over it”.

Advocate Nel further revealed Scott had since briefly appeared before the Verulam Magistrate’s Court—on 13 March 2015—for remand.

Meanwhile, the Lesotho Times also established that Scott has already instructed his lawyer, Advocate Moso, of the South African Legal Aid, to seek his release on bail when the case resumes in the Verulam Magistrate’s Court on 21 April 2015.

Since the case started, two lawyers – Advocates Shameer Goolabjith and Nkanyiso Maphumulo – who had been hired by Scott to represent him have quit due to non-payment of their fees.

Scott (29) is accused of brutally killing and mutilating fellow Koalabata residents, Moholobela Seetsa (13) and Kamohelo Mohata (22), in 2012 for ritual purposes.

After being arrested alongside his mother, ’Malehlohonolo, who is his co-accused in the alleged murders, Scott escaped from the high-security Maseru Central Prison on 14 October 2012, as he awaited trial.

After the police failed to re-arrest Scott who had fled to South Africa after his jailbreak, ’Malehlohonolo was released on M500 bail in August 2013 under stringent conditions.

’Malehlohonolo (59) had been directed by the court to report to the nearest police station every Friday.

However, the High Court relaxed the bail conditions on 18 November 2014, and ordered her to make the police report once every two weeks.

However, on 2 March 2015, the High Court refused to release ’Malehlohonolo’s passport, citing she was a flight risk.

Justice Teboho Moiloa, who made the ruling, said the passport was seized to ensure ’Malehlohonolo stays in the country and is available whenever she is needed to appear in court.

In an effort to have his client granted further relief, ’Malehlohonolo’s lawyer, Advocate Thulo Hoeane, had applied for the release of his client’s passport  so she could attend church services in South Africa—a request turned down by Justice Moiloa.

According to the judge, 31 August 2015 had been set as the date on which ‘Malehlohonolo, and possibly her son, would be back in court, and could therefore, not take risks by returning her passport.

“The court date was set to enable the completion of the ongoing extradition proceedings for Lehlohonolo in the Durban North Magistrate’s Court.

“However, if he is extradited before that date, counsel should see me to set a date for trial,” Justice Moiloa said.

Meanwhile, in addition to murder, Scott would also be charged with escaping from lawful custody.

But after his arrest by the South African police in Durban on 6 April 2014, Scott claimed he was not a Lesotho citizen but a South African, hence he could not be extradited.

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