THE High Court has issued a warrant of arrest for former Police and Public Safety Minister Lehlohonolo Moramotse’s murder-accused son, Thabo Moramotse.
This after he failed to appear in court on Monday to stand trial for the June 2016 murder of his sister-in-law, Martha Kota-Moramotse.
The slain Martha was wife to Thabo’s younger brother, Nduma.
Thabo and Nduma are both sons of Lehlohonolo Moramotse, the ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC)’s legislator for the Lithoteng constituency. Lehlohonolo served as police minister in the previous Thomas Thabane-led administration which collapsed in May this year and was replaced by the current Moeketsi Majoro-led government.
He is a state witness along with Nduma in the murder case of his daughter-in-law, Martha.
She was shot dead as she drove into the family’s Lower Seoli residence in June 2016.
Although Martha was murdered in 2016, Thabo was only arrested last month.
He subsequently appeared before Justice Charles Hungwe on 18 August 2020 and he was granted bail. His co-accused Pako Sekhonyana was also granted bail while the other suspect Tekane Tekane remained in custody because he is accused of other unspecified crimes. Thabo last appeared in court for his routine remand on 14 September 2020.
The murder trial was supposed to start on Monday but it could not proceed due to the absence of Thabo.
It is not clear whether he is still in the country or he has fled to avoid standing trial. Police spokesperson Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli yesterday said they were still searching for Thabo and they would “appreciate tip-offs from the public to help find him”.
Thabo’s lawyer, Advocate Tšeliso Fiee, on Monday told the court that he did not know his whereabouts of his client. Adv Fiee later recused himself from the case, saying he did not have any instructions from Thabo on how to proceed with the matter.
The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Advocate Hlalefang Motinyane, then petitioned Justice Hungwe to issue a warrant of arrest for Thabo for his unexplained failure to show up in court.
“I hereby ask the court to revoke bail of the first accused (Thabo) who is not here and his whereabouts are unknown,” Adv Motinyane said.
Justice Hungwe subsequently revoked Thabo’s bail and issued a warrant for his arrest. He also postponed the matter to 19 October 2020.
Although he is one of the state witnesses, former minister Lehlohonolo did not show up at the High Court on Monday.
Court officials who spoke to this publication on condition of anonymity said they were surprised by the former minister’s no show. They said he did not answer his mobile phone when he was called to explain his absence.
However, Nduma attended the Monday session along with other witnesses.