Army de­fies fies Ap­pealAp­pea Court ourt

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Tefo Tefo

Lance-cor­po­ral Toma Ne­hemiah Jobo is still lan­guish­ing in Maseru Max­i­mum Se­cu­rity Prison de­spite last week’s Court of Ap­peal rul­ing order­ing his re­lease.

The of­fi­cer is among 23 Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF) mem­bers fac­ing mutiny charges be­fore a Court Mar­tial and who have been in de­ten­tion since their ar­rest be­tween May and June this year.

Lance-corp Jobo first ap­peared be­fore the High Court on 21 May 2015 af­ter his wife, ‘Matl­hokomelo, filed an ap­pli­ca­tion seek­ing an or­der di­rect­ing army com­man­der Lieu­tenant-gen­eral Tlali Kamoli to fa­cil­i­tate her hus­band’s ap­pear­ance be­fore the court.

Ms Jobo wanted to find out if her hus­band was still alive as she claimed he had been kid­napped by the mil­i­tary. But Jus­tice Semapo Peete re­fused the prayer af­ter rul­ing the of­fi­cer had not been kid­napped.

On 23 July 2015, Lance-cor­po­ral Jobo, Lance-cor­po­ral Aupa Mo­hasi and Cor­po­ral Mo­lato Mo­hat­lane filed a fresh ap­pli­ca­tion be­fore the High Court chal­leng­ing a di­rec­tive is­sued by Ma­jor-gen­eral Li­neo Poopa.

The di­rec­tive sought to fur­ther keep the sol­diers in de­ten­tion. On 5 Oc­to­ber, Jus­tice ‘Mase­shophe Hla­joane or­dered the sol­diers’ re­lease, but the LDF ap­pealed the judg­ment.

How­ever, only Lance-cor­po­ral Jobo pur­sued the case, with the Court of Ap­peal on Fri­day rul­ing in his favour and order­ing his im­me­di­ate re­lease.

Jus­tice Moses Hungwe Chin­hengo said: “The or­der of the court a quo is set aside and the fol­low­ing or­der is sub­sti­tuted thereof: The 2nd ap­pli­cant, Toma Ne­hemi- ah Jobo, shall be placed un­der open ar­rest with im­me­di­ate ef­fect.

“…fail­ure of the mil­i­tary au­thor­i­ties to com­ply with Regulation 11(2) in par­tic­u­lar, and the un­rea­son­able­ness of keep­ing him un­der close ar­rest in view of the un­cer­tainty as to when his trial would com­mence, com­pel this Court to or­der he be placed un­der open ar­rest.”

Regulation 11(2) pro­vides that “no mem­ber shall be held un­der close ar­rest for more than 42 days pend­ing trial, un­less a su­pe­rior au­thor­ity, on le­gal ad­vice from the Di­rec­tor of Le­gal Ser­vices, di­rects in writ­ing, that he shall not be re­leased from such cus­tody.”

How­ever, the Le­sotho Times yes­ter­day es­tab­lished that Lance-cor­po­ral Jobo was still in Maseru Max­i­mum Se­cu­rity Prison.

Ac­cord­ing to his lawyer, Khotso Nthon­tho, he had failed to es­tab­lish why his client re­mained in cus­tody. The Le­sotho Times could also not im­me­di­ately get a com­ment from the LDF re­gard­ing the de­ten­tion.

“He has still not been re­leased and we don’t know what is hap­pen­ing,” At­tor­ney Nthon­tho said.

“One ex­pected he would be re­leased but he is still in de­ten­tion de­spite the court or­der.

“The or­der was served on the army au­thor­i­ties, in­clud­ing the of­fice of the com­man­der, on Mon­day this week, but still noth­ing has hap­pened.

“I don’t know what to do now con­sid­er­ing the sit­u­a­tion. If it was an or­di­nary ci­ti­zen de­fy­ing the court or­der, we would sim­ply ask the po­lice to ar­rest that per­son, but we are talk­ing about the com­man­der of the Le­sotho De­fence Force here.”

LEFT to right: Chief of Staff Ma­jor Gen­eral Li­neo Poopa, LDF Com­man­der Lt-gen Tlali Kamoli and Court Mar­tial Pres­i­dent Ma­jor Gen­eral Mo­jalefa Let­soela.

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