Scotts reject new lawyer

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Lekhetho Ntsukunyane

Koalabata double ritual murder suspects, Lehlohonolo Scott and his mother ‘Malehlohonolo, yesterday rejected government’s offer of a new lawyer, insisting they wanted to continue with Advocate Thulo Hoeane.

The suspects met with High Court Assistant Registrar Pontšo Phafoli to discuss the lawyer government had identified to replace Advocate Hoeane.

Advocate Hoeane, who was also appointed by the government to represent the Scotts, on 13 April 2016 told the High Court he was withdrawing from the case citing “professional reasons”.

After the announcement, presiding judge, Justice Teboho Moiloa, postponed trial to 16 May 2016 and instructed the Office of the High Court Registrar to appoint a new lawyer for the suspects.

The Scotts, who are accused of butchering two people in Koalabata four years ago, pleaded not guilty to murder when trial resumed on 11 April 2016.

Advocate Hoeane told the Lesotho Times he was not happy with the way Justice Moiloa had conducted the trial since it started hence his decision to withdraw.

However, the lawyer made a U-turn a week later and told the Lesotho Times he had reconsidered his decision after the suspects pleaded with him to continue representing them.

The lawyer said he was then seeking a meeting with Chief Justice Nthomeng Majara to request for a foreign judge for the trial. Only a foreign judge, Advocate Hoeane said, could be neutral in the case which has transfixed the nation due to the brutality of the murders.

But the Lesotho Times learnt Advocate Hoeane failed to meet with Chief Justice Majara until the Scotts were summoned to appear before Ms Phafoli yesterday morning.

Ms Phafoli told the Lesotho Times: “It is true we had a meeting for an interview regarding a new lawyer the court had identified to represent them, but they insisted Advocate Hoeane was still their lawyer. I cannot reveal the name of the new lawyer we had identified to represent them.”

On his part, Advocate Hoeane said: “I was not invited to today’s meeting, but I knew my clients had been requested to sign documents which summoned them to appear before the Registrar for an interview to get them a new lawyer. I have said it that those people will not accept any other lawyer except me. That’s what they told me. So I knew they were going to reject the new lawyer.”

Asked if he was not playing delaying tactics together with the Scotts, Advocate Hoeane said he had nothing to benefit from the delay.

“What benefit would I get if this matter is delayed? I am not playing games here. This is a serious matter. I don’t have any problems with Scott and his mother. But I have a problem with the way the judge has been conducting the case. And for that I am going to file an application for his recusal when the case resumes on Monday next week. Like I said before, we would rather have a foreign judge to preside over this matter for the neutrality and fairness the trial deserves.”

The Scotts were arrested on 12 July 2012 for allegedly killing their Koalabata neighbours, Moholobela Seetsa (13) and Kamohelo Mohata (22) in January and June 2012, respectively. The deceased’s mutilated bodies led to suggestions they had been killed for ritual purposes.

However, Scott escaped from Maseru Central Prison on 14 October 2012 and was on the run until South African police arrested him in Durban as he emerged from a church service on 6 April 2014.

After his arrest, Scott appeared before the Verulam Magistrate’s Court and Durban North Magistrate’s Court, where he argued his name was Lehlohonolo Mokhele. He also said he was a South African as he fought extradition to Lesotho.

However, he lost the extradition battle and on 21 October 2015, was brought to Lesotho and appeared before the High Court the same day where Justice Moiloa remanded him in custody until 23 November 2015. His mother had been released on M500 bail in August 2015.

On 4 November 2015, Scott also appeared before the Maseru Magistrate’s Court and charged with escaping from lawful custody.

 

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