Maseru, Mar. 07 — Retired Senior Technical Officer in the Ministry of Public Works Thabiso Letuka who is testifying as witness number eight in a murder trial against some members of the army who are accused of killing Brigadier Maaparankoe Mahao has in his evidence related to the court, a shooting that took place along the Mahlabatheng, Ha Mantsebo Road near Mokema.
He told the court that on June 25, 2015 while on duty with his colleagues at the road between Mahlabatheng and Ha Mantsebo, he saw a mini truck pass by taking the direction of Mahlabatheng from Mokema. He indicated that after a few seconds, three white double cab vehicles also passed at high speed. He remarked that the manner in which the vehicles passed was unusual as it was at a sharp corner thus attracting their attention.
The witness stated that they had to stop taking measurements on the road, which was part of their job because something was happening between the three double cabs and the truck. He said they heard gun reports adding that two occupants of the truck ran away. He further added that the two people who had run away from the truck came back with their hands raised when they heard another gun shot.
He pointed out that the people who had disembarked from the three vans had gathered at the mini truck on the driver’s side. He further pointed out that they were a bit distant from the scene therefore he was not able to count how many they were or make out the colour of their clothes because they were dark.
The witness informed the court that there was a scuffle at the truck on the passenger’s side between the occupants of the three double cabs and the driver of the truck. He said following the scuffle, someone was dragged from the truck to one of the three double cab vehicles which then drove off. He added that then another double cab followed, leaving one behind.
He stated that when they later arrived at the scene there was an adult male and a young boy. He said the boy who was shaking and looked scared told them that his uncle Maaparankoe was shot.
The witness was classified under the safety net as one of the witnesses whose photos and videos should not be taken for safety reasons. This was after the court had directed that no photos or videos of the witnesses be taken and published as requested by the prosecution.
The prosecution through Advocate Shaun Abrahams had earlier stated that there are several witnesses lined up to testify in the matter, some of which are in fear of their lives. He indicated that such witnesses have requested that no photos or video footage of them be taken and published in any form of media. He however pointed out that there is no problem with voice recording.
At least nine members of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) including Former Army Commander Tlali Kamoli stand accused of the murder and several other offences in the matter.
It is alleged that the deceased in the matter was shot and killed on June 25, 2015 at Ha Lekete in Mokema.