Officer denies Khetheng murder charge
SUSPENDED police officer, Senior Superintendent (SSP) Thabo Tšukulu, has denied accusations that he was part of the conspiracy to kill Police Constable (PC) Mokalekale Khetheng in March last year.
SSP Tšukulu also denied being at Ha-mokhalinyane in Maseru rural where the alleged murder of PC Khetheng took place.
SSP Tšukulu was testifying in his marathon High Court bail application. He has applied to be released on bail from the Maseru Central Correctional Institute where he is awaiting trial on charges of murdering PC Khetheng.
He is jointly charged with former Defence Minister, Tšeliso Mokhosi, and other police officers, namely, Senior Inspector Mabitle Matona (39) of Butha-buthe, Ha Nqabeni, Sub Inspector Haleokoe Taasoane (44) of Liphofung Mokhotlong and Inspector Mothibeli Mofolo (49).
Mr Mokhosi fled the country upon his release on bail, alleging he feared for his life.
They are charged with the murder of PC Khetheng at Ha-mokhalinyane on 26 March, 2016.
PC Khetheng was last seen alive while being arrested by his colleagues at a traditional feast in Sebothoane, Leribe on 25 March 2016.
PC Khetheng had been arrested and charged on allegations that he torched the house of his superior in Mokhotlong district where he was deployed.
He was allegedly last seen with Inspector Mofolo, PC Ntoane, PC ‘Mabohlokoa Makotoko and Senior Inspector Matona.
The LMPS had argued that PC Khetheng had left the Hlotse police station without permission and they did not know where he was.
For its part, the Khetheng family argued that the police should know where he was because they arrested him.
A body believed to be that of PC Khetheng was exhumed at Lepereng Cemetery in the Maseru district on 11 August this year after the police were granted a court order by the Magistrate’s Court in light of the ongoing investigations into his disappearance and suspected murder.
SSP Tšukulu (51), the Hlotse Police Station Commander was subsequently arrested and charged along with the other three police officers with PC Khetheng’s murder.
They first appeared before the Magistrate’s Court on 8 August, 2017 and were remanded in custody by Chief Magistrate ‘Matankiso Nthunya who advised them to apply for bail at the High Court.
The prosecution opposed SSP Tšukulu’s bail application and called in witnesses, who included two police officers and a member of the Lesotho Correctional Service (LCS) to motivate its opposition to his bail application.
In his testimony on Monday SSP Tšukulu told the High Court that he was not part of the conspiracy to kill PC Khetheng and urged the court to release him on bail.
“I have never been at or near Ha-mokhalinyane at all,” SSP Tšukulu said.
“I have never been part of the conspiracy to kill anybody and there will be no evidence before this honourable court to prove that I conspired to kill the deceased. Even if such evidence can be put before this court, it would be a forged evidence,” he said.
He was responding to a question by his lawyer Advocate Karabo Mohau (KC), who asked whether or not he had been to Ha-mokhalinyane.
Another question was whether or not he was part of the conspiracy to kill PC Mokalekale Khetheng.
SSP Tšukulu told High Court judge, Justice Semapo Peete, that he had no intention of absconding if released on bail because he had movable and immovable property that he could not risk losing.
He also said he wanted to be released on bail because he was not allowed access to all his books by the prison authorities.
He said he wanted adequate access to his three law books namely; Procedure and Evidence Act of 1981, Constitution of Lesotho and the Introduction to Law.
He also said he did not have access to his laptop in prison, which he used for his studies with the University of South Africa.
However, during the cross examination on Tuesday the lawyer representing the Crown, Advocate Motšei Tlali, urged the court not to release SSP Tšukulu on bail, alleging that he was a dishonest witness.
Advocate Tlali said even if SSP Tšukulu was released on bail, his wife would still take care of the family property that include fields, animals and an orchard at his Matelile home, as well as his residence in Khubetsoana.
Justice Peete postponed the case to 5 October, 2017.
SUSPENDED police officer Senior Superintendent Thabo Tšukulu.