Scott trial hits an­other snag

Lesotho Times - - News - Lekhetho Nt­sukun­yane and Keiso Mohloboli

The trial of dou­ble rit­ual mur­der sus­pects, Lehlo­honolo Scott and his mother ’Malehlo­honolo, has hit an­other snag af­ter high Court Reg­is­trar, Le­sitsi Mokeke, said he did not know how Ad­vo­cate Thulo hoeane be­came their lawyer.

Ad­vo­cate hoeane, who main­tains he was ap­pointed by the gov­ern­ment to rep­re­sent the Scotts on a pro deo ba­sis through Mr Mokeke’s of­fice in 2012, with­drew from the case on 13 April 2016 say­ing he was not happy with the way pre­sid­ing judge, Jus­tice Te­boho Moiloa, was con­duct­ing the case.

But Ad­vo­cate hoeane later had a change of heart af­ter the Scotts in­di­cated they did not want any other lawyer apart from him.

he had, how­ever, in­di­cated he would be ap­ply­ing for Jus­tice Moiloa to re­cuse him­self be­cause of his al­leged bias against the Scotts.

But Mr Mokeke re­fused to re-en­gage Ad­vo­cate hoeane cit­ing, among oth­ers, that he did not know who ap­pointed the lawyer to be the Scotts’ lawyer in the first place.

This re­sulted in Ad­vo­cate hoeane fail­ing to show up for trial last Wed­nes­day.

Jus­tice Moiloa then ad­vised the Scotts to look for an­other lawyer paid by ei­ther the gov­ern­ment or them­selves, while the mat­ter was post­poned to Tues­day this week.

But when trial was sup­posed to re­sume on Tues­day morn­ing, Ad­vo­cate hoeane rose to “clear my name.”

Speak­ing to the Le­sotho Times later on the same day, Ad­vo­cate hoeane said: “I went to the court to clear my name af­ter I heard that the judge thought I was con­temp­tu­ous by fail­ing to show up be­fore the court last week. I told the court today that the rea­son why I could not show up last week was be­cause Mr Mokeke was re­fus­ing to reen­gage me on pro deo ba­sis to rep­re­sent the Scotts. In other words, the Reg­is­trar is re­fus­ing to pay for my ser­vices to rep­re­sent them.

“When I didn’t show up be­fore the court last week, my un­der­stand­ing was that Mr Mokeke would have com­mu­ni­cated with the judge to ex­plain to him that he had re­fused reap­point me, there­fore the court should not ex­pect me to be there.”

Ad­vo­cate hoeane said he was or­dered by Jus­tice Moloa to “step-aside” af­ter he told the court he could no longer pro­ceed with the case “be­cause there were no such in­struc­tions from the of­fice of the Reg­is­trar.”

Mean­while, the Scotts in­sisted be­fore Jus­tice Moloa af­ter Ad­vo­cate hoeane had stepped aside on Tues­day that they would still want to be rep­re­sented by him af­ter they failed to se­cure a new lawyer.ad­vo­cate hoeane said a sub­se­quent de­ci­sion was reached be­tween him and the Scotts to pay him them­selves.

But Ad­vo­cate hoeane was quick to in­di­cate he feared they did not have the money to pay and had since writ­ten to Chief Jus­tice Nthomeng Ma­jara ask­ing for her in­ter­ven­tion to con­vince Mr Mokeke to reen­gage him so that the gov­ern­ment would pay him.

“My fear is that the Scotts will even­tu­ally run out of funds and not pay me. By that time, it will be too late for the gov­ern­ment to en­gage a new lawyer. The only right thing Mr Mokeke should do now is to reen­gage me. Af­ter all, we are talk­ing about tax­payer’s money here, not his own,” Ad­vo­cate hoeane said.

For his part, Mr Mokeke on Tues­day told the Le­sotho Times: “Ad­vo­cate hoeane an­nounced him­self that he was with­draw­ing his le­gal ser­vices to the Scotts in April. My of­fice didn’t have any query be­cause I un­der­stood that he was the Scotts’ pri­vately hired lawyer.

“It came as a sur­prise to me when Ad­vo­cate hoeane claimed he wanted to be re-ap­pointed to the Scotts’ case be­cause he was ap­pointed by gov­ern­ment to rep­re­sent them. I was obliged to make find­ings on who ap­pointed him be­cause I did not ap­point him my­self.

“On the other hand, if such ap­point­ment was made, there are cer­tain pro­ce­dures like the sign­ing of ap­point­ment form by the ap­pointee and the let­ter of ap­point­ment from my of­fice which in this case did not hap­pen.”

Mr Mokeke added he was told by ‘Malehlo­honolo that de­spite her son’s claims that he

wants no other lawyer other than Adv hoeane, no one from the gov­ern­ment had asked if they could not af­ford their own le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tion.

“It was an­other blow that ‘ Malehlo­honolo claimed that they could af­ford to pay for a lawyer of their choice but were never given a chance to that ef­fect. Ac­cord­ing to ‘ Malehlo­honolo, ini­tially, they paid Ad­vo­cate Sale­mane Phafane (King’s Coun­sel) to rep­re­sent them but later Ntate Phafane with­drew be­cause of per­sonal rea­sons,” Mr Mokeke said.

The Reg­is­trar, how­ever, said he doesn’t have a prob­lem with the Scotts choos­ing Ad­vo­cate hoeane, “only if they are go­ing to pay for his le­gal fees them­selves.”

he ar­gued in prin­ci­ple if sus­pects can­not af­ford a lawyer and have to be pro­vided for that service by the gov­ern­ment through his of­fice, they can­not dic­tate which lawyer should rep­re­sent them.

“If my of­fice is ap­point­ing a lawyer for the Scotts, then, Lehlo­honolo doesn’t have a choice but to ac­cept the lawyer,” he said.

The Scotts were ar­rested on 12 July 2012 for al­legedly killing and mu­ti­lat­ing their Koal­a­bata neigh­bours, Mo­holo­bela Seetsa (13) and Kamo­h­elo Mo­hata (22) in Jan­uary and June 2012, re­spec­tively.lehlo­honolo es­caped from Maseru Cen­tral Prison on 14 Oc­to­ber 2012 while await­ing trial but was ar­rested in Dur­ban, South Africa, on 6 April 2014.

He was ex­tra­dited to Le­sotho on 21 Oc­to­ber 2015.

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