Judg­ment re­served in bri­gadier’s case

Lesotho Times - - News - Tefo Tefo

High Court Act­ing Judge Jus­tice Keketso Le­sihla Moahloli yes­ter­day re­served judg­ment to next week in a case in which Bri­gadier Poqa Mo­toa is fight­ing to be re­leased from Maseru Max­i­mum Se­cu­rity Prison where he is now un­der soli­tary con­fine­ment.

Bri­gadier Mo­toa is among 18 sol­diers in the prison await­ing trial by a Court Mar­tial for al­legedly plot­ting a mutiny last year.

The of­fi­cer is also one of the said sol­diers that Jus­tice Molefi Makara, on 16 Oc­to­ber 2015, or­dered that they should be placed un­der “open ar­rest” but re­main in de­ten­tion fol­low­ing their ar­rest be­tween May and June 2015.

He and his fel­low de­tainees have since lodged an ap­pli­ca­tion be­fore the High Court for an or­der declar­ing Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF) Com­man­der Lieu­tenant-gen­eral Tlali Kamoli in con­tempt for not re­leas­ing them.

The ap­pli­ca­tion is set to be ar­gued on Thurs­day next week be­fore Act­ing Judge Jus­tice John ‘Musi of South Africa af­ter Jus­tice Makara re­cused him­self from the mat­ter cit­ing the col­lapsed re­la­tion­ship be­tween him and some of the lawyers in­volved in the case.

Dur­ing his de­ten­tion, Bri­gadier Mo­toa used to min­gle with his co-ac­cused un­til 29 De­cem­ber last year when he was placed un­der soli­tary con­fine­ment af­ter al­legedly re­fus­ing to wa­ter spinach in the prison gar­dens.

His wife, ‘Mam­pelo Mo­toa, filed an ur­gent ap­pli­ca­tion be­fore the High Court on 31 De­cem­ber 2015 for an or­der di­rect­ing the army to bring her hus­band be­fore the court as she claimed she was be­ing de­nied ac­cess to him since the soli­tary con­fine­ment.

Bri­gadier Mo­toa was brought to court on 31 De­cem­ber 2015 and the case was set for ar­gu­ment yes­ter­day.

Ms Mo­toa had also asked the court to com­pel Lt-gen Kamoli to com­ply with Jus­tice Makara’s or­der to re­lease her hus­band.

But af­ter hear­ing ar­gu­ments from both sides, Jus­tice Moahloli yes­ter­day re­served judg­ment to next week with­out men­tion­ing a spe­cific date.

“i will give you an ex­tem­pore judge­ment on this mat­ter not later than a week from to­day, but you must un­der­stand that it will just be ex­tem­pore,” he said.

Mean­while, Ms Mo­toa’s lawyer, At­tor­ney Nthon­tho, told the judge that the Bri­gadier’s con­tin­ued de­ten­tion was un­law­ful be­cause Jus­tice Makara had al­ready or­dered his re­lease.

At­tor­ney Nthon­tho fur­ther said his place­ment in soli­tary con­fine­ment was in breach of LDF reg­u­la­tions.

“The reg­u­la­tions only pro­vide for soli­tary con­fine­ment for a tried pris­oner not an un­tried pris­oner,” he said.

The lawyer fur­ther said the reg­u­la­tions pro­vided that no un­tried pris­oner should work with­out his con­sent.

“The fact that he was given a task to wa­ter spinach is not in com­pli­ance with the reg­u­la­tions,” At­tor­ney Nthon­tho said.

“i per­son­ally talked to a per­son in charge of the prison and he told me that the Bri­gadier was put in soli­tary con­fine­ment be­cause he re­fused to wa­ter spinach, but now it seems the story has changed on the pa­pers.”

At­tor­ney Nthon­tho also al­leged that Bri­gadier Mo­toa was de­nied ac­cess to his med­i­ca­tion “yet he is suf­fer­ing from hy­per­ten­sion, di­a­betes and also has high blood pres­sure”.

But the lawyer rep­re­sent­ing the re­spon- dents, Ad­vo­cate Le­hooli Motikoe said the Bri­gadier was put in soli­tary con­fine­ment af­ter fail­ing to obey or­ders that he should clean his cell and its sur­round­ings.

Ad­vo­cate Motikoe also said the court should stay pro­ceed­ings un­til the ap­pli­ca­tion in which the de­tained sol­diers want Lt-gen Kamoli to be found guilty of con­tempt of court, is fi­nal­ized.

The re­spon­dents in­clude Lt gen Kamoli, Lieu­tenant-colonel Thato Phaila and the At­tor­ney Gen­eral.

Ad­vo­cate Motikoe said it was not cor­rect that the army did not com­ply with Jus­tice Makara’s or­der to re­lease the de­tainees.

The lawyer told the court that they were re­leased and served with fresh war­rants to keep them in prison.

“How­ever, this will be ex­ten­sively ar­gued in the con­tempt ap - pli­cat i on,” h e said.

Bri­gadier Poqa Mo­toa.

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