4 police officers granted bail

4 police officers granted bail

MASERU – FOUR police officers charged with the murder of Thibello Nteso, the Lesotho Electricity Company (LEC) internal auditor, have been released on bail. Nteso was shot dead a year ago as he knocked off from work. He had allegedly unearthed a serious case of fraud involving over M170 million. The four were ordered to pay bail deposits of M1 000 each, not interfere with state witnesses, not hamper police investigations, attend remands and stand trial to finality.

In their bail applications, the four pleaded with the court for High Court judge, Justice Teboho Moiloa, to release them saying they would not abscond.
The crown did not oppose their bail applications. The crown counsel told the Director of Public Prosecutions, Hlalefang Motinyane, that the investigating officer Detective Police Constable Tankiso Lethoko and his superior Assistant Commissioner Beleme Lebajoa, convinced them that the suspects “are not a flight risk”.

Lethoko and Lebajoa reasoned that the suspects “had shown no intention to abscond before and after being remanded and charged”.
“There is no reasonable suspicion that they will not stand trial to finality if released on bail,” the crown said in a report to the DPP.
The crown said the investigators told them that “there is no actual or anticipated interferences with the state witnesses”.

“All the four petitioners are members of the Lesotho Mounted Police Service. Some of the state witnesses are their co-workers but the petitioners had not threatened or inferred with those state witnesses since the commencement of the investigations and as such there is no reasonable (belief) that they will interfere with any state witnesses either a police officer or member of the society,” the report reads.

The crown counsel also reported that the investigators felt there is no risk of endangering public safety or committing further offences if they are granted bail. The report says as police officers “they are still reporting and working at their respective stations”.
“They are still behaving as peace officers and their release on bail will not endanger society in any manner,” the counsel report said.
“There is no risk of jeopardising the criminal justice system.”

The report says the applicants “had advanced exceptional circumstances as it is required by the law that in murder case a petitioner should advance such circumstances when applying for bail”.

“Based on instructions from the police and all other relevant considerations their bail was not opposed by the crown,” the report says.

The court did not order them to report to the police station as part of their bail conditions because they “are not on suspension”.
“It is not necessary to impose that condition because they are reporting at their respective police stations every day they are assuming their duties,” the court ruled.

The suspects are Police Constable Moeketsi Dlamini from Ha-Mofoka, Police Constable Monaheng ’Musi from Ha-Motsepa in Thaba-Tseka, Inspector Thaele Ramajoe from Koalabata in Berea and Superintendent Tlala Phatela from Ha-Phatela in Qacha’s Nek.
In their bail application, Dlamini and ’Musi told the court that they have passports and would stand trial as members of the LMPS stationed at the Special Operations Unit.

The duo also told the court that they have all their property in this country and they could not desert their families and their animals.
As for Phatela, he asked the court to release him because he supports his family and three minor children, two of whom are his biological children.
He told the court that he is also supporting an adult child aged 23 who is unemployed.

He said he is also supporting his elderly mother. Phatela said he is a citizen of Lesotho and has got strong family ties in this country and as such would not abscond.

Phatela said he is member of the LMPS and that his further detention will jeopardise his work and he could end up jobless and his family could suffer as he is the sole bread winner.

Ramajoe asked the court to release him on bail because he has an extended family namely his father-in-law, his mother whom he takes to the hospital for treatment every now and then.

Ramajoe told the court that the crown’s case is exceptionally weak against him as he was not at the crime scene at the time that the shooting took place.

And this is confirmed by the individuals that were with the deceased who had filed a supporting affidavit.
His lawyer argued that criminal cases take long in Lesotho and the continued detention of the petitioner before trial will amount to punishment and he could not be compensated for time he would spend in jail.

’Mapule Motsopa

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