Mochoboroane, Metsing must face the music, says DPP

Mochoboroane, Metsing must face the music, says DPP

MASERU-THE government will not interfere in the prosecution of Mothetjoa Metsing and Selibe Mochoboroane for alleged treason.
This is according to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Hlalefang Motinyane who told the court in an affidavit last week that the government will not stop her from charging the two politicians.

Advocate Motinyane filed the affidavit after Metsing and Mochoboroane asked the Constitutional Court to postpone their case to allow the government to consider a political solution to their legal woes.
In the main case before the Constitutional Court the two are seeking an order blocking the DPP from bringing treason charges against them.
It is that case that they want postponed on account that the government is seeking a political way to get them off the hook.

But a seemingly peeved Advocate Motinyane said the application for postponement lacked merit. Any attempt by the government to block the charges is “unacceptable” as it would undermine her prosecutorial powers and violate the principle of separation of power.
She told the court that the Minister of Law and Constitutional Affairs and the Attorney General have told her that the government did not want charges.

“I have established that attempts had been made by Applicants to ask for clemency. The matter had been discussed at the executive level,” she said.
The report she got from the government, she added, will comply with SADC’s recommendations to finalise “serious prosecution of identified cases”.

Earlier this year Metsing and Mochoboroane rushed to the Constitutional Court after the DPP was about to indict them on treason charges linked to what the government says was an attempted coup in August 2014.
A policeman was killed after soldiers raided police stations and the State House.

Metsing and Mochoboroane argued that charging them would violate Clause 10 of the SADC-brokered political agreement that says no politician will be charged until the national security reforms are finalised.
They accepted that the same court had earlier ruled that the clause is unconstitutional and cannot stop the DPP from charging politicians but argued that the court would have reached a different conclusion if it had heard their arguments.

In essence, the two are asking the court for what amounts to a review of its earlier judgement.  
The basis of that request is that they were not party to the initial case even though its outcome affects them.
That main case was supposed to be heard last week but matters took a turn when they requested a postponement on the basis that the new government was considering stopping their prosecution.
The court asked them to file a substantive application so it could consider their request for postponement.

In his affidavit, Mochoboroane, said the postponement was not sought to interfere with the DPP’s independence.
“The fact that the government wants to consider the position in relation to this matter does not in any way violate the independence of the DPP in as much as she will be consulted and not forced to take a decision in any particular direction,” said Mochoboroane, the Movement for Economic Change leader.

Mochoboroane, recently appointed Minister of Development Planning, said there is a distinction between the government meddling with the DPP’s affairs and reassessing its position on political offences.

The government, he said, “should be able to talk to the DPP (as a lawyer representing the State), as a client would do with its lawyers in respect of a matter pending in a court of law on behalf of such client”.
He said in March this year Justice Dikgang Moseneke, SADC’s facilitator to Lesotho, told the then Prime Minister Thomas Thabane that the prosecution of politicians was a contravention of Clause 10 of the October 2018 agreement.

Mochoboroane argued it was clear that the agreement that contains Clause 10 “constitutes an international obligation of Lesotho to carry out the decision of SADC”.
Lesotho cannot invoke its municipal law to avoid international obligations, he said.

He added that the DPP need not fret about the government’s plans because she will be consulted before a decision is made on whether the two will be charged.
In response Advocate Motinyane said she was under no obligation to take instructions from the government on how to prosecute cases.
She said the Constitutional Court has already declared Clause 10 unconstitutional.

“The judgement essentially prevents the branches of government from usurping and or interfering with my prosecutorial powers,” Advocate Motinyane said.
She said it is “unacceptable” that Metsing and Mochoboroane had applied for a postponement “in order to look for ways of interfering with my decision to charge them for treason”.
Advocate Motinyane said it will be unwise to submit her decision to charge Metsing and Mochoboroane for “reconsideration by the executive only because” there is a new Minister of Law (Prof Nqosa Mahao) and a new Prime Minister.

Postponing the case would delay the trial of other suspects with whom Metsing and Mochoboroane are supposed to be prosecuted, she said.
These include former commander Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli and several soldiers who have been in prison for nearly three years.

Last week Lt Gen Kamoli and his co-accused in the murder of Sub Inspector Mokheseng Ramohloko told Justice Onkemetse Tshosa, the presiding judge, that they are ready for the trial to proceed.  
Advocate Motinyane said if the postponement is granted that case will be delayed until there is a decision on whether Metsing and Mochoboroane should be joined as suspects.

This, she noted, would affect the other suspects who are not part of the application for postponement.
She said she is worried that the application for postponement has also frustrated judges hired from SADC countries to hear cases related to the 2014 political disturbances.

She said one of the judges Justice Kabelo Lebotse has since resigned “out of frustrating conduct of delay tactics”.

Staff Reporter

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