Witnesses fail to pitch up

MASERU — The trial of eight men who are charged with attempting to assassinate Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili two years ago was postponed to today after the key witness failed to get into the country on time.

A state witness, Simon Mnguni from South Africa, was due to testify for the state but failed to enter Lesotho because he did not have a valid passport.

The eight are accused of launching an audacious attack on Makoanyane military barracks and the State House on April 22, 2009.

They are facing charges of kidnapping, murder and attempted murder.

Among the accused are Solomon Mabasa and Antonio Lopez who were arrested in Lesotho.

The others are Rocky Masinga, Fransisca Mandlate, Mangani Malenge, Angelo Mondlani, George Thomas, and Abel Nhantsave.

The other member of the group, Alberto Makwakwa, died in prison in July last year.

Lawyers for both the crown and the defence waited patiently for Mnguni to arrive until they were informed that he was having problems at the border post.

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Leaba Thetsane KC, and the defence team consisting of Attorney Haae Phoofolo and Advocate Thulo Hoeane then went to inform Justice Thamsanqa Nomongcong of the situation in his chambers.

The trial was then adjourned to this morning.

Earlier on Tuesday, Justice Nomongcong threw out an objection by Phoofolo that the court should not proceed with the trial because the six suspects he was representing had appealed against a ruling that the court had jurisdiction to try them.

Phoofolo argued that if his clients’ appeal succeeds they would be entitled to release.

But Thetsane had argued that even though he did not appear for Mabasa and Lopez, the two would suffer prejudice if the trial was to be postponed as they had been in custody for two years.

He said it would also be an inconvenience to the court if the trial of the two accused was to be stayed pending appeal by the other six.

But Justice Nomngcongo ruled that the trial should continue in spite of the appeal that had been lodged in the Court of Appeal.

The judge said it is undesirable to conduct criminal cases “piece meal” unless it is in the public interest.

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