Metro (Lesotho)

Mohale Dam murder trial to commence

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THE 10 soldiers who allegedly strangled three men and dumped their bodies in the Mohale Dam in 2017 will finally have their day in court next week Wednesday when the High Court sets hearing dates for their trial. The case is one of several high profile trials against soldiers, police officers and politician­s for which the government has engaged foreign judges, for fear of prejudice and bias.

The matter was postponed on a number of occasions for various reasons, with some of the accused among others pleading jurisdicti­on after the charges were read against them. The accused also face charges of unlawful detention and issuing superior orders to unlawful detention. Pitso Ramoepana, Lekhooa Moepi, Mahlehle Moeletsi and Mahlomola Khoali argued that Justice Onkemetse Tshosa from Botswana was not qualified to hear the case. Justice Tshosa has since resigned from the bench. Nthathakan­e Motanyane and Tieho Tukiso contended that there was a pending matter which challenged the powers of Justice Tshosa to preside over the trial. Other accused, in particular Motšoane Machae and Nemase Faso objected to additional charges laid against them. Liphapang Sefako declined to plead, saying he had not yet discussed additional statements with his lawyer. Rapele Mphaki demanded time to give instructio­ns to his lawyer about witness statements that were exchanged. The 10 members of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) are accused of strangling Lekhoele Noko, Khothatso Makibinyan­e and Molise Pakela at the army camp in Setibing, Maseru on May 16, 2017.

The deceased’s bodies were later fished out of the Mohale Dam by members of the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) with the assistance of their South African counterpar­ts.

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