Chief Magistrate threatens to release suspects on remand

Chief Magistrate threatens to release suspects on remand

MASERU – CHIEF Magistrate ’Matankiso Nthunya says she will empty onto the streets hundreds of suspects who have been languishing in remand prison for years because their trials are not moving.
Nthunya told a press conference on Tuesday that most of the suspects stuck in remand prison are accused of rape and murder.
Maseru district alone has 2 413 suspects in remand prison because their cases have stalled in the courts, she said.

Nthunya blamed the police for consigning suspects to remand prison while investigating their crimes.
“Most of these cases pending investigations are murder cases,” Nthunya said, adding that they are now following Acting Chief Justice ’Maseforo Mahase’s order to release the suspects.
“What’s the use of keeping someone in custody for more than eight years without being prosecuted?” she quipped.
“What if such person will not be found guilty?”
She wondered how such suspects will be compensated if they are eventually acquitted after spending years in prison.
The chief magistrate said the problem is that the police tend to arrest suspects before completing investigations.
The result, she said, is that some cases cannot go to trial because the state doesn’t have enough evidence to prosecute.

Yet the suspect will still wallow in remand prison, further chocking the already overcrowded prisons and worsening the courts’ backlog of cases.
Nthunya said when the courts order the release of such suspects, the public accuses them of unleashing criminals back into the communities. She said often, they return dockets to the police for further investigations.
“And as a result, we are faced with a backlog of cases pending finalisation,” she said.

She said such cases sometimes drag on for so long that they become difficult to prosecute because the witnesses have died, or the prosecutor and the magistrate are transferred.
“So, they end up just like that but the suspect is kept in custody,” she said.
“As a result, inmates who are awaiting trial in prisons will be released.”
She said some suspects have been on remand for more than five years because there are no witnesses or the police are yet to finish their investigations.
“Because of long trial time, some complainants have lost interest in their cases,” she said.

“Some were raped at a young age and now they have already got married and do not want to relive the trauma by testifying against the suspects.”
She said such people have long lost interest in the prosecution of their cases.
Nthunya said such cases will be struck off the roll.
She said because of the backlog of cases and the number of suspects on remand there is a perception that the courts are not working.
It looks as “we are doing nothing, we are just taking people to the prison without prosecuting their cases”, she said.

Nthunya told the media that the courts will no longer allow the police to bring suspects before investigations are done.
She said some cases are pending because the police are waiting for the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP)’s directive to arrest some suspects, especially civil servants.

“This makes prisons to be overcrowded by people that the courts did not convict.”
On the same issue police spokesperson Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli said they are yet to work on this issue, as for now they have no opinion.

Itumeleng Khoete & Thooe Ramolibeli

Previous A deadly cycle of generational poverty
Next Violent protest over speed hump

Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /home/thepostc/public_html/wp-content/themes/trendyblog-theme/includes/single/post-tags-categories.php on line 7

About author

You might also like


Setsomi hits hard times

MASERU – SENIOR Superintendent Lebohang Setsomi’s return from a tough two years in exile has turned sour. S/Supt Setsomi came back from South Africa in September after the government said he


I’m no novice, says Mokhothu

MASERU – IF there is anything that seems to weigh heavily on Mathibeli Mokhothu’s shoulders, it is the issue of his age. At just 41 years old, Mokhothu is considered by

Local News

Sadc reforms roadmap

In 2014 Lesotho’s First Coalition Government, which came into power in 2012, began to experience a tension that eventually led the country to a political crisis. SADC appointed the Deputy