21 January 2019

Lesotho: M5000 Bail for Business Mogul Nthane

Murder accused business mogul Tšeliso Nthane of Nthane Brothers Pty (Ltd) has been granted M5000 bail in a case in which he stands accused of shooting and killing one of his employees in 'Moteng, Butha-Buthe district, last Thursday.

High Court judge, Justice Sakoane Sakoane, presided over Nthane's case and ordered the latter to attend remand hearings without fail. Mr Nthane was not present in court and he was represented by his lawyer, King's Counsel Salemane Phafane.

Mr Nthane was hospitalised in Butha Buthe with hypertension in the aftermath of the shooting incident which sent shockwaves across the country. However, some sources said he was released from hospital early this week. Efforts by the Lesotho Times to obtain confirmation of Mr Nthane's release from the Butha-Buthe government hospital failed.

According to the charge sheet, Mr Nthane is "charged with murder and contravening section 40(1) of Penal Code Act No. 6 of 2010".

"He is released on conditions that he will be available to stand trial, he reports to Butha-Buthe police on his remand dates and he does not interfere with the Crown witnesses."

Section 40 (1) of the Penal Code Act states that "any person who performs any unlawful act or omission with the intention of causing the death of another person, commits the offence of murder if such death results from his or her act or omission".

According to the police, Mr Nthane whose businesses spans the construction, property development and other sectors, shot and killed his 51-year-old truck driver, Kopang Mohapi of Qacha's Nek. This after Mr Mohapi had been involved in a road accident at the Moteng Pass, about 171 kilometres from Maseru, while transporting construction machinery to Polihali in Mokhotlong for Mr Nthane's company which was recently awarded a massive road construction tender for the second phase of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP).

Mr Mohapi's truck overturned, throwing off various construction machinery which blocked the road, making it impassable to other vehicles. Police spokesperson Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli said upon learning of the accident, Mr Nthane and some of his employees drove from Maseru to the accident scene to assist in removing the machinery from the road and transporting it to Polihali.

"According to eye witnesses, while the employees were working on lifting the machine back onto the truck, their boss (Mr Nthane) called Mr Mohapi to talk to him in private. After a short while, they heard a gunshot and saw the driver fall down," Supt Mopeli said.

Supt Mopeli said Mr Nthane then rushed the stricken Mr Mohapi to the Butha-Buthe government hospital where he was pronounced dead. Mr Nthane then handed himself over to the Butha-Buthe police where a murder case was opened. Supt Mopeli said further investigations into the matter are ongoing.

Sources close to the developments told the Lesotho Times' sister Sunday Express publication that Mr Nthane was "very distraught by the shooting incident" and fell ill shortly afterwards. He was subsequently hospitalised for hypertension under police guard at the Butha-Buthe hospital.

"He (Mr Nthane) was so shocked when he heard that the man had died. He had been hopeful that the driver would survive after receiving medical assistance," one source said.

In a recent telephone interview, the deceased's eldest son, Mashome Mohapi, said the family was shocked by the sudden death of their father.

Mr Mashome said he learned through social media posts that his father had been killed.

Mr Mashome said Nthane Brothers company representatives visited the family in Qacha's Nek at midnight last Thursday to report the death of their father. He however, said they did not give full details of what actually transpired between Mr Nthane and his father that led to the shooting.

"We are shocked by the death of my father. We are still awaiting a clear explanation of what happened that led to my father' fatal shooting. My mother has not taken this well. She is in disbelief. We all are," Mr Mashome said. He added the family had not set the date for the funeral of Mr Mohapi who is survived by his wife and two children.

Mr Nthane recently won a M235 million tender to build a road which stretches from Mapholaneng to the Khubelu River where the LHWP's Phase II dam - Polihali - is going to be constructed next year.

For the latest road tender, the Nthane Brothers who have won several government tenders over the years, entered into a joint venture with Sinohydro SA - a company with close ties to Chinese-owned Sinohydro Corporation.

The Nthane Brothers have a 60 percent shareholding in the joint venture to build the 16-kilometre road.

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