Mag­is­trate re­cuses him­self in edi­tor shoot­ing case

Sunday Express - - NEWS - Tefo Tefo

SE­NIOR Res­i­dent Mag­is­trate Phethise Motanyane on Fri­day re­cused him­self from pre­sid­ing over an at­tempted mur­der case in­volv­ing five sol­diers who al­legedly shot and in­jured Le­sotho Times edi­tor, Lloyd Mu­tungamiri, in July 2016.

The five army of­fi­cers are Bri­gadier Rapele Mphaki (47), Colonel Khut­lang Mochesane (57), Ma­hanyane Phusumane (37), Ny­atso Tšoe­un­yane (41) and Maribe Nathane (35). They al­legedly shot Mr Mu­tungamiri at his home in Up­per Thamae in Maseru dur­ing the late hours of 9 July 2016, af­ter he had knocked off from work. He sus­tained se­vere fa­cial, den­tal and hand in­juries, caus­ing him to un­dergo ex­ten­sive surgery in South Africa.

It had been an­tic­i­pated that the long awaited trial would fi­nally kick off on 15 March this year when the five ap­peared be­fore Mag­is­trate Motanyane but on that day their lawyer, Ad­vo­cate Ka­belo Le­tuka, im­me­di­ately in­formed the court that they in­tended to for­mally ap­ply for the sen- ior res­i­dent mag­is­trate to re­cuse him­self from the case for undis­closed rea­sons.

One of the ac­cused sol­diers, Col Mochesane, on 23 April 2018 filed an ap­pli­ca­tion be­fore the Mag­is­trate’s Court seek­ing the re­cusal of Mr Motanyane on the grounds that the mag­is­trate would not be im­par­tial in ad­ju­di­cat­ing over the case.

Col Mochesane sug­gested in his af­fi­davit that Mr Motanyane could not be re­lied on to be im­par­tial in the trial be­cause he (Col Mochesane) in­ves­ti­gated a case in which Mr Motanyane clashed with another mag­is­trate who had ac­cused him of play­ing po­lit­i­cal songs that “ir­ri­tated her”.

“I aver that some years ago, it came to my at­ten­tion that there had been a very se­ri­ous fall­ing out be­tween two mag­is­trates who were sta­tioned in Mo­hale’s Hoek. One of those mag­is­trates was His Wor­ship Mr Motanyane, Col Mochesane stated in his af­fi­davit.

Col Mochesane said he gath­ered the al­le­ga­tions against Mr Motanyane when he (Col Mochesane) was still at­tached to the Mil­i­tary In­tel­li­gence (MI) depart­ment of the Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF).

“I am aware that at the heart of that fall­ing out were po­lit­i­cal dif­fer­ences, with one mag­is­trate ac­cus­ing His Wor­ship Mr Motanyane of play­ing po­lit­i­cal songs that ir­ri­tated her,” Col Mochesane fur­ther stated.

And on Fri­day, Mr Motanyane re­cused him­self from the case. He how­ever, said his re­cusal did not mean that the al­le­ga­tions raised against him were true.

“Al­though I do not agree with the false and se­ri­ous al­le­ga­tions against me in the ap­pli­cant’s found­ing af­fi­davit, I hereby re­cuse my­self in this case so that jus­tice should be seen to be done,” Mr Motanyane ruled.

The case will have to be re-al­lo­cated to another mag­is­trate to pre­side over it. The case was ini­tially al­lo­cated to Res­i­dent Mag­is­trate Polo Banyane but was later re-al­lo­cated to Mr Motanyane in March this year af­ter the Act­ing Direc­tor of Pub­lic Prose­cu­tions, Adv Hlale­fang Motinyane, di­rected that the case should be heard by a mag­is­trate of the rank of Se­nior Res­i­dent Mag­is­trate.

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