Soldier turns crown witness

Soldier turns crown witness

MASERU – A SOLDIER who is among those charged with the attempted murder of former Lesotho Times editor, Lloyd Mutungamiri, has turned crown witness.
As a result, Second Lieutenant Mahanyane Phusumane who has been at the Maseru Maximum Security Prison while awaiting trial since December 2017, was released on Tuesday.

Mutungamiri was shot as he arrived at his house from work in July 2016.
His shooting happened a few days after the newspaper had published controversial stories about the then Lesotho army commander Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli.

Second Lieutenant Phusumane’s lawyer, Advocate Letuka Molati, told a Maseru magistrate yesterday that he was not properly informed when the crown dropped charges against his client.
Molati accused the crown of going behind his back and consulting his client without his knowledge.

He said he was stunned when he heard rumours on social media that one of the accused soldiers had turned crown witness.
“Surprisingly, I was not informed as the lawyer representing the accused person. I still have his records and I was not even in court on Tuesday when he was released,” he said.
He told the court that based on how the prosecution had acted, there is more drama to come.

Molati said he is willing to apply for a review of the decision because he is still entitled to meet his client even after his release.
He said he is supposed to meet his client in person.
Molati said he still had information about his client.
Advocate Kabelo Letuka who is representing some of the accused in the case told the court that he was also not aware of the new developments in the case.

He said he only heard rumours while he was on his way to court to proceed with the case.
He told the court that he is set to challenge the decision made as the released person knows everything about his clients.
Advocate Letuka said Sec Lt Phusumane and his co-accused were consulted all together and surprisingly he has now been discharged.

“He knows almost everything happening as he was always available when we were consulting them in prison. How can he be a state witness?” he asked.
Sec Lt Phusumane was accused along with other four soldiers Khutlang Mochesane, Nyatso Tšoeunyane and Maribe Nathane of attempting to murder Mutangamiri.

A prosecutor in the case, Advocate Rethabile Setlojoane, said it was not true that both counsel were not informed about the dropping of charges against Sec Lt Phasumane.
He said they discussed it and they even said they were going to challenge it.
“I am surprised they say they were not informed,” he said.

Magistrate Peter Morenzi who was presiding over the case, said he understands the situation happening to the defence counsel at the moment.
He said from the record, he was aware that there was no representative from the defence counsel when Sec Lt Phusumane was released.
He said he would not be surprised if the defence lawyers apply for a review because of the impact of the new developments.
The matter was then postponed to October 9.

Itumeleng Khoete


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