Blow for top soldiers

Blow for top soldiers

MASERU – TWO top soldiers accused of plotting to topple their commanders have failed in their last ditch effort to avoid prosecution.
Captain Litekanyo Nyakane and Captain Boiketsiso Fonane, who are accused of mutiny, had asked the Martial Court to dismiss their case before it goes to trial.
But yesterday Retired Justice Mathanzima Maqutu, who is Judge Advocate to the Martial Court, ruled that the soldiers had a case to answer.
This means the two will now go to trial.

Justice Maqutu said they will have to clear their names in the military court.
He said they could not wriggle out of the fact that they were present at the late Colonel Tefo Hashatsi’s home where mutiny against slain army boss, Lieutenant General Khoantle Motšomotšo, was planned.

Justice Maqutu said they had to explain what they were doing at Hashatsi’s home on that day and time.
He said they were part of a group of soldiers who attended the meeting hosted by the late Brigadier Bulane Sechele at Colonel Hashatsi’s home.
If they had nothing to do with the mutiny, the judge said, they could have reported to the LDF command that there was a planned mutiny and would provide evidence that they were there when it was conspired.

“Did Fonane and Nyakane not find it mutinous that Sechele said the commander had lost his responsibilities when he instructed the junior soldiers to go and report to the police?”
Brigadier Sechele and Colonel Hashatsi were against the commander’s order that soldiers who were suspected of killing a woman and injuring her boyfriend near the home of former commander Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli should hand themselves to the police.

Justice Maqutu said even though Captains Fonane and Nyakane did not say a word at the meeting they still have to explain their presence at the meeting in Colonel Hashatsi’s garage.
Their failure to do anything when Brigadier Sechele was advising the other members not to go to the police station should be explained in court, the judge said.
He said evidence given before court was that during the mutiny, Brigadier Sechele and Colonel Hashatsi confronted the late Lieutenant General Motšomotšo on why he was “selling them out to the police”

Justice Maqutu emphasized that Captains Fonane and Nyakane could have reported that there was a mutiny if they did not like what Brigadier Sechele said.
He said according to the military law, Brigadier Sechele had no right to say the commander sold them to the police.

“He influenced the soldiers not to go to the police saying they are going to be tortured like the former minister Tšeliso Mokhosi,” the judge said.
However, Captain Nyakane’s lawyer Advocate Motiea Teele had argued his client had nothing to do with the meeting which was held at the late Colonel Hashatsi’s house.
According to Advocate Teele, Captain Nyakane was ordered to wait at the gate to welcome the visitors coming to the meeting.

He said Captain Nyakane did not even contribute during the meeting.

“My client did not even know that there was a mutiny to be done hence he was ordered by Hashatsi to wait at the gate to welcome the guests coming to the meeting,” Advocate Teele said.
The advocate said it was not illegal for his client to be present at the meeting because it was called by his superiors.

“My client’s presence at the meeting had nothing to do with the mutiny, there was no evidence brought against my client that he had intentions to be part of the mutiny,” he said.
Captain Nyakane did not know about the mutiny, Advocate Teele said.

He said even though witnesses indicated that Captain Nyakane was at the meeting the question the court should ask them is what role did he play in the meeting.
However Advocate Thulo Hoeane from the prosecution side indicated that the charge against Captain Nyakene was that he failed to report to his superiors about the mutiny or the meeting held.
Advocate Hoeane said in the meeting at Colonel Hashatsi’s house Brigadier Sechele said he did not encourage the soldiers to go and report to the police because as a member of the general staff there is a division amongst themselves. He said merely being present at the meeting was an act of mutiny.

Itumeleng Khoete

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