Maseru, Apr.17 — The defence in a case in which ten members of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) are charged with the murder of three men whom they allegedly threw their bodies into the Mohale Dam has on Monday opposed an application for postponement of the matter which was made by the prosecution.
The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Advocate Hlalefang Motinyane had requested that an application for withdrawal which was made by two prosecution lawyers ceased with the matter, Advocates Shaun Abrahams and Motene Rafoneke, be deferred to Monday next week. She had stated that this was so that she would be able to continue working on the administrative and contractual issues of the two lawyers so that they continue with the case.
Adv. Letuka Molati, one of the defence lawyers argued that the application for postponement is made from the bar adding that it is not accompanied by a notice of motion and an affidavit therefore it does not exist. He pointed out that the application for postponement has to be justified, in terms of law.
Adv. Karabo Mohau (KC) stated that no reasons have been advanced by the DPP why the postponement should be granted. He indicated that the postponement is not a matter of mere asking. He said it is applied for adding that it is also motivated. He pointed out that they were not informed of the cause of action by the prosecution. He added that if they were notified as they were about the application for withdrawal, they would have received instructions from their clients whom they represent in the matter.
He remarked that the defence is often blamed for delaying progress in the matter adding that they want to see the case proceed to finality.
Adv. Qhalehang Letsika argued that given the history of the case, the application for the postponement is unfair. He stated that it is a stance to bring the administration of justice into disrepute. He pointed out that the constitutional rights of the accused to a fair and speedy trial are being breached.
He emphasised that the accused are ready to be tried adding that the office of the DPP is well resourced to continue with the matter. He said the accused and their families as well as victims should know where they stand.
Despite opposition from the defence about the postponement and also request that the application for withdrawal be heard as they were prepared for it, a judge presiding over the case Justice Moroke Mokhesi stated that the application for postponement will be condoned. He however warned the prosecution that there will no longer be further postponement on the matter because of the same issue.
Advocates Abrahams and Rafoneke have in their application for withdrawal from the case stated professional and administrative issues which were revealed to be non-payment of their fees by the Government of Lesotho through the office of the DPP, as the reasons behind their intention to leave.
The DPP has stated that if her office was independent to run its finances, such issues would be avoided. She assured the court that the prosecution will be ready to proceed with the case on Monday. He emphasised that as the dominus litis, they want to see the matter proceed to finality.
The accused in the matter are alleged to have acted in concert and in furtherance of a common purpose, and strangled Lekhoele Noko, Khothatso Makibinyane and Molise Pakela to death during incidents that happened at Setibing in Maseru on May 16, 2017.
They are also facing charges such as conspiracy to murder, unlawful detention and issuing superior orders to unlawful detention as well as to kill.
The matter is scheduled to proceed on Monday next week.