Shock admission at soldiers’ trial

Shock admission at soldiers’ trial

MASERU – IN a stunning revelation the lawyers representing the army told a Court Martial yesterday that there was no CCTV footage of what transpired during the assassination of Lieutenant General Khoantle Motšomotšo in September. This was after the lawyers representing Major Pitso Ramoepane, Captain Boiketsiso Fonane and Captain Litekanyo Nyakane demanded the footage that links the three suspects to Lt Gen Motšomotšo’s murder. The three pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The Crown says in early September 2017 Major Ramoepane acting in concert with the late Brigadier Bulane Sechele and Colonel Tefo Hashatsi violently resisted a directive to be taken to police headquarters by confronting and attacking Lt Gen Motšomotšo.
The second count is that Major Ramoepane took part in a mutiny in which Captain Fonane and Captain Nyakane attended a meeting held at the official quarters of Colonel Hashatsi at Makoanyane Barracks on September 4.

It is alleged that in that meeting Brigadier Sechele and Colonel Hashatsi encouraged Corporal Sebolai, Private Ratšiu and Private Matsoso to refuse orders of the deputy commander to hand themselves to the police. They are charged with failure to report a planned mutiny.

The Crown says they knew that Brigadier Sechele and Colonel Hashatsi planned mutiny and they individually or collectively unlawfully and intentionally failed to neither report nor act to suppress the mutiny. Captain Nyakane is charged with being in illegal possession military equipment.

The Crown says on September 9, 2017 near military intelligence office at the Defence headquarters, Captain Nyakane was found in possession of a 9mm pistol, 33 loaded magazines, a riffle with 6 loaded magazines, 132 hand grenades.  During the trial yesterday Defence counsel Advocate Karabo Mohau KC, who appeared for Major Ramoepane, asked for the footage that shows his client was involved in the commander’s killing.

Advocate Mohau said he wanted the footage because he was “defending an accused who might face the death penalty hence justice has to be served”.
Advocates Thulo Hoeane and Koili Ndebele, said there is no footage of what transpired when the commander was killed.
Advocate Mohau pushed back and insisted that there should be footage.

“It’s hard to continue with the case without accuracy of the prosecution’s statement that there is no video footage and fingerprints,” Mohau said.
“It would appear somehow that someone doesn’t want the footage to be seen,” he said. “We know that the footage can be available as police said they had seen the accused in the footage,” Mohau said, adding: “It can be accessible, it’s just that its accessibility is confidential.”

Advocate Hoeane said the person who opened the door has nothing to do with the mutiny so is not necessary in the case.
He said the cameras were not on that day. Justice Mathanzima Maqutu said matters that are disputed should not be made from the bar.
“Advocate Mohau used the statement from the bar, which is not advisable, as the prosecution stated that there is no footage,” Justice Maqutu said.
“The plea stands to fall.”

Lance Corporal Tefo Molupe gave evidence on what happened on September 5 last year. L/Corp. Molupe said he has known Ramoepane for more than 12 years as he was reporting to him on a daily basis about Military Intelligence. He said on September 5 he was to meet with Major Ramoepana to tell him that one civilian who had clashes with a soldier had come to the barracks.

“Approaching Major Ramoepane’s office he was already leaving his office heading to the command block offices with Captain Makara in a conversation,” L/Corp Molupe said. “I came running after them to give him the report but had to wait for a moment to let them finish their conversation.”

He said after the conversation Major Ramoepane told him that he was “going there, indicating command block office, mainly because he had heard that the late Hashatsi and Sechele were going to confront the commander.” “The statement terrified me because due to hierarchy it is not correct for a junior officer to confront a senior officer and the word ‘confront’ was enough to leave me scared”.

He said Major Ramoepana then proceeded to the command block and while he was heading to Makara’s office, he heard some gun shots.
“Some of the shooting sounds were from the commander’s office.” L/Corp Molupe said after the shooting he met Major Ramoepane near the main gate of Military Intelligence office.

He said when he asked him what was happening “he said he didn’t know but he seemed to be in a hurry and puzzled.”
“Knowing the accused for 14 years made it easy to say when he was not himself.” Advocate Mohau put it to L/Corp Molupe that the statement that Major Ramoepane said he was going to meet Colonel Hashatsi and Brigadier Sechele at the command block office is “an after-thought statement to make the court believe what is not true”.

“What you are saying doesn’t even appear in the witness statement submitted before the court,” he said. The panel is made up of Justice Maqutu as Judge Advocate, the President Mbote Sekoboto, Lt Col Mamoi Mofelehetsi, Lt Col Motseki Kanetsi, Major Tseko Nthakong and Major Sera Lekoatsa.
The prosecution consists of Advocates Hoeane, Ndebele, Rethabile Setlojoane and Major Moeketsi Mosehle.
Representing the accused is Advocates Mohau KC, Letuka Molati and Motiea Teele KC.
The trial continues today.

Senate Sekotlo

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