Court to hear Tšukulu’s bail appeal

Court to hear Tšukulu’s bail appeal

MASERU – THE Court of Appeal will on Monday hear an appeal by Superintendent Thabo Tšukulu in which he is challenging the High Court’s decision to deny him bail.
Supt Tšukulu, together with former defence minister who is also deputy leader of the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) Tšeliso Mokhosi, is facing charges of abducting and murdering Police Constable Mokalekale Khetheng in March 2016.

Other accused people are Senior Inspector Mabitle Matona, Sub-Inspector Haleokoe Taasoane and Inspector Mothibeli Mofolo.
The five deny the charge.

Tšukulu wants the Court of Appeal to overturn the decision by High Court judge Justice Semapo Peete who dismissed his bail application on grounds that he might interfere with police witnesses.
Justice Peete also ruled that Tšukulu failed to show him any exceptional circumstances that warranted him to release him from jail on bail.
The crown had also argued in court that Tšukulu was a flight risk.

In his judgement in September last year, Justice Peete said to grant bail the court is guided by “whether the accused is a flight risk likely to abscond”.
The judge also said the court is guided by whether the accused is “likely to interfere or influence the evidence of witnesses to be called”.
“Granting or refusal of bail is judgmental about the future conduct of the petitioner and all these must be founded on reasonable apprehension,” Justice Peete said.
Tšukulu had reasoned that his co-accused, former minister Mokhosi, had been granted bail and he was surprised as to why his case could not be treated in the same way.
Justice Peete said “each case will depend upon its own particular circumstances”.

“Nothing is cast in stone,” he said.
One of the crown witnesses in the bail application, Sergeant Thamae, told the court that he was very much opposed to Tšukulu being released on bail on the grounds that he was likely to interfere with police witnesses whom he knew very well.

Sgt Thamae also informed the court that Tšukulu had already attempted to influence certain potential police witnesses at Leribe Police Station to change their story regarding the case.
Sgt Thamae also stated that Tšukulu was likely to abscond because he is facing a very serious charge for which if convicted, he can receive a heavy punishment.
Another crown witness, Detective Police Constable Ntoane, said he feared Tšukulu could send his men to kill him if he was released on bail.

“I fear that he could kill me through his men …. because I am a witness in a case he has to answer over the murder of Police Constable Mokalekale Khetheng.”
“The evidence I have against Petitioner is rather strong … he would try to kill me to destroy the evidence … he instructed me how to respond to questions,” DPC Notoane said.
“He vehemently told us that anyone of us who would not do as he said would lose his poor job (mosebetsinyana ona oa sono). This was after Khetheng had disappeared.”

He said even before the exhumation of PC Khetheng, Tšukulu was already coercing police officers under him “to say some untruths regarding what happened to Khetheng.”
DPC Notoane said Tšukulu would be tempted to influence witnesses despite whatever bail conditions the court might impose.
“I am rightly scared,” he said.

Tšukulu had said he deserved to be granted bail because the prison warders denied him access to books so that he could do legal research in defence of his case.
To this, Justice Peete found that the books that he was to receive while incarcerated had some handwritten notes in some pages and therefore warders would not allow that they be taken into the premises.

Tšukulu had also told the court that he was doing his first semester for a BA in Community Development Studies with UNISA.
He said his continued imprisonment inhibits his studies with UNISA.

He also said he would not abscond because he had a thriving orchard in his village of Ha-Qaba in Matelile.
Justice Peete said the UNISA studies and the thriving apple orchard whilst being noble and laudable are personal circumstances which are outweighed by other broader interests.

Staff Reporter

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