Sol­dier found guilty of re­bel­lion

Sunday Express - - FRONT PAGE - Keiso Mohloboli

LE­SoTHo De­fence Force (LDF) Staff Sergeant Mpolo­keng Moleleki-Let­lotlo was on Thurs­day found guilty of re­bel­lion and in­sub­or­di­na­tion in con­nec­tion with a state­ment that she ut­tered to the ef­fect that the slain former army com­man­der, Lieu­tenant Gen­eral Khoan­tle Motšo­motšo, de­served to die.

She could be jailed for two years for the of­fence.

SSgt Moleleki-Let­lotlo was found guilty by the Court Mar­tial and she will be sen­tenced this week af­ter the court has con­sid­ered her mit­i­ga­tion plea which will be sub­mit­ted by her lawyer, Ad­vo­cate Zwe­lakhe Mda (King’s Coun­sel).

Ac­cord­ing to the ev­i­dence that was led in court, the 39-year old staff sergeant ut­tered the: “O shoele han­tle

Motšo­motšo (which loosely trans­lates to Motšo­motšo de­served to die).

Lt Gen Motšo­motšo was fa­tally shot by his sub­or­di­nates, the late Bri­gadier Bu­lane Sechele and Lieu­tenant Colonel Tefo Hashatsi, at his Ha Ratjo­mose Bar­racks of­fice on 5 Septem­ber 2017. Col Hashatsi was the com­man­der of the Spe­cial Forces while Brig Sechele was the le­gal ad­viser and chief prose­cu­tor of the army.

SSgt Moleleki-Let­lotlo ut­tered the state­ment at the army’s switch­board of­fice at Makoanyane Bar­racks in Maseru im­me­di­ately af­ter the as­sas­si­na­tion of Lt-Gen Motšo­motšo.

She has been await­ing trial on open ar­rest since the 14th of De­cem­ber 2017.

Lt Gen Motšo­motšo was al­legedly ac­cused of “sell­ing out” sol­diers loyal to former army com­man­der, Lt-Gen Tlali Kamoli to the po­lice and Prime Min­is­ter Thomas Tha­bane’s ad­min­is­tra­tion be­fore his as­sas­si­na­tion on 5 Septem­ber 2017.

In the Court Mar­tial at Makoanyane Bar­racks on Thurs­day, the Court Pres­i­dent, Lieu­tenant Colonel Ramor­it­ing, found SSgt Moleleki-Let­lotlo guilty of con­tra­ven­ing sec­tion 79 of the Le­sotho De­fence Force Act of 1996. The con­vic­tion was made on the advice of Judge Ad­vo­cate Lt Col Mathat­jane.

“What hap­pened on the 5th of Septem­ber 2017 is highly emo­tive and I would there­fore ad­vise the hon­ourable court to find the ac­cused guilty as charged,” Lt Col Mathat­jane said. SSgt Moleleki-Let­lotlo’s state­ment was found to be re­bel­lious and show­ing in­sub­or­di­na­tion.

Pres­i­dent Lt Col Ramor­it­ing de­liv­ered the guilty ver­dict in the af­ter­math a 30-minute ad­journ­ment of pro­ceed­ings which was made to give the court an op­por­tu­nity to de­lib­er­ate on the ev­i­dence that had been sub­mit­ted to the court.

“This hon­ourable court has taken advice of the Judge Ad­vo­cate and found the ac­cused guilty as charged,” Lt Col Ramor­it­ing ruled.

How­ever, Adv Mda (KC) pleaded with the court to be given more time to pre­pare for mit­i­ga­tion on be­half of SSgt Moleleki-Let­lotlo.

“The court should ac­cord enough time to pre­pare ad­e­quately for mit­i­ga­tion be­cause it is an im­por­tant stage and a de­ter­min­ing fac­tor of some­one’s sen­tence,” Adv Mda KC said.

Lt Col Ramor­it­ing granted Adv Mda KC’s re­quest, say­ing: “the date for sen­tence is set to be be­tween the 19th and 20th July 2018”.

Sec­tion 79 of the LDF Act states that “any person sub­ject to this Act who is guilty of any act, con­duct or ne­glect to the prej­u­dice of good or­der and mil­i­tary dis­ci­pline com­mits an of­fence and shall, on con­vic­tion, be li­able to im­pris­on­ment for a term not ex­ceed­ing two years”.

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