Mahao murder  suspects say they are broke

Mahao murder suspects say they are broke

MASERU – TEN soldiers who are accused of assassinating former Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) commander, Maaparankoe Mahao, want the government to assist them pay their legal fees.
The suspects, apart from Colonel Tumo Lekhooa who skipped the country, are all in custody at the Maseru Maximum Prison pending finalisation of the case.
The soldiers appeared before Zimbabwean judge, Justice Charles Hungwe, on Monday.
The other suspects are Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli, Captain Litekanyo Nyakane, Captain Haleo Makara, Sergeant Lekhooa Moepi, Sergeant Motsamai Fako, Corporal Morasi ‘Moleli, Corporal Motšoane Machai, Corporal Mohlalefi Seitlheko and Corporal Tšitso Ramoholi.

The suspects told the court that they are now broke and are unable to continue paying their legal fees.
Advocate Kabelo Letuka told the court on Monday that his clients had also written to the Registrar of the High Court asking the government to assist with legal fees.
He argued that their clients have been paying their fees from the very first day they appeared in court almost two years ago.
And what was worrisome was that the case has been pending in the courts and there had been no progress while on the other hand they are forking out money.
“Every time when we come to the court, they have to pay us,” Adv Letuka said.
He said they are now waiting for a response from the Registrar because they got information from the Assistant

Registrar that there is a response although they have not been briefed of the outcome.
Advocate Letuka further said they are facing difficulties as to how are they going to proceed with the case while they are expected to serve clients who are not in a position to pay.
“We as lawyers are on duty too. We depend and survive on our clients,” he said.
The trial of the soldiers has not been able to proceed as the government pushed for foreign judges to handle the matter.
The suspects have however challenged the decision to bring in foreign judges.

Adv Letuka said they cannot attend court remands because they understand their clients’ situation.
He raised concerns that even though the court pressured them to attend remands, they are faced with issues regarding this case.
He said the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has failed to provide them with statements they have against their clients.
Adv Letuka asked how they will be expected to defend their clients when such statements have not been availed to them.
He said it is their right to be provided with statements and list of witnesses the state has against their clients.
He said the courts have dealt harshly with one of his clients, Sergeant Fako, who applied for bail in April 15, 2019 explaining he would be able to prepare for his trial while still in custody.
The court has not said anything regarding the application, Adv Letuka said.
He said some of the witnesses are LDF members who are not able to meet or consult with them because the army command has issued an order that no soldier should visit the correctional service where the suspects are kept.

The suspects are accused of allegedly assassinating Lt Gen Mahao on June 25, 2015.
The case has been postponed to August 5, 2019 for mention.
Justice Hungwe ordered the DPP to provide the defence with witness lists on or before this Thursday.
The case is expected to proceed from August 26 to September 27 this year.

Itumeleng Khoete


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