7 October 2017

Lesotho: Murder Accused Soldiers Remanded in Custody

EIGHT soldiers facing charges of murdering three men were on Tuesday remanded in custody to 18 October, 2017 by the Magistrate's Court in Maseru.

The soldiers are Sergeant Lekhooa Moepi (43), Captain Mahlehle Moeletsi (50), Lance Corporal Mahlomola Makhoali (32), Private Nthatakane Motanyane (24), Brigadier Rapele Mphaki (47), Motšoane Machai (39) from Roma, Mafikeng; Liphapang Sefako (48) from Ha-Thetsane and Nemase Faso (28) from Tebellong, Qacha's Nek.

The soldiers stand accused of murdering Lekhoele Noko, Molise Pakela and Khothatso Makibinyane after the trio were released from police custody where they were detained for the alleged murder of a soldier and a street vendor at the Maseru border post in May this year.

They soldiers were on Tuesday sent back to Maseru Central Correctional facility where they are detained while awaiting trial, as they have not yet applied for bail before the High Court.

They were ordered to appear again on remand on 18 October, 2017.

They are charged with the crime of murder in contravention of section 40 (1) read with section 109 of the Penal Code Act No. 6 of 2010.

According to the charge sheet they allegedly strangled the three men to death in Setibing in rural Maseru on 16 May, 2017.

Their court appearance came at a time when the High Court was proceeding with applications by relatives of the deceased men for an order directing the army and police authorities to produce their bodies dead or alive.

The new developments resulted in the postponement of the court applications to 31 October, 2017.

High Court judge Justice Semapo Peete postponed the case after the lawyer representing the relatives of the deceased men, Attorney Khotso Nthontho, last week told the court that some soldiers were charged with the murder of the trio who were the subject of the High Court's inquiry into their whereabouts.

"With me here my lord, I have a charge sheet in which five members of the Lesotho Defence Force are charged and remanded in custody in relation to this matter.

"We have conferred with my learned friends for the respondents and agreed that there is no need to proceed with the cross examination of Captain Monyeke," Attorney Nthontho said.

Meanwhile, the police are still to recover the bodies of the three men which are believed to have been dumped in the Mohale Dam in Maseru district.


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