Soldier fights  for acquittal

Soldier fights for acquittal

MASERU – A defence lawyer representing one of three soldiers accused of killing Lisebo Tang near the home of former army boss, Lt Gen Tlali Kamoli, yesterday applied for the discharge of his client.

Advocate Sello Tšabeha, who is representing Private Kopano Matsoso, told the court that his client should be discharged because there is no evidence that he fired even a single shot.

He said although Private Matsoso was one of guards, he was not involved in any of the charges they are facing.
“He was not even there at the scene during action,” Advocate Tšabeha said.
High Court judge Justice Kabelo Lebotse will rule on the matter on March 5.
Two other soldiers, Corporal Tjekane Sebolai and Private Selone Ratšiu, have also been charged over the murder.
Tang was killed in a hail of bullets near the home of Lieutenant General Kamoli in Ha-Leqele on May 1, 2014.

Tang was declared dead at the scene of the shooting, while her friend, Jane was injured and was rushed to Makoanyane Military Hospital.
Police reports suggest the vehicle in which they were sitting, was shot 123 times by soldiers guarding Lt Gen Kamoli’s home.

Tang’s body had three open wounds on the right breast, one open wound below the breast, three open wounds on the right buttock, one open wound above the left hip and two above the waist on the right back.
Advocate Tšabeha said out of the 12 witnesses the crown intended to call before court, three of whom arrived at the scene immediately after the incident took place, told the court in their statements that Private Matsoso was not there at the scene.

He also said even Lt Gen Kamoli’s son, Atlehang Kamoli, told the court that Private Matsoso was not there when he arrived immediately after hearing gun shots.

“Even Corporal Mokoena Mokoena and Lieutenant Moletsane, the most senior and the assigning lieutenant whom the accused reported to, also admitted that they did not see Private Matsoso at the scene,” he said.
However, the crown says Private Matsoso “acted in furtherance of the common purpose to murder initiated by Corporal Tjekane and Private Ratšiu”.

The crown argues that Private Matsoso left Tang and Jane in “the vehicle to die and did not report the matter to the police despite being aware of the injury and damage that had been caused”.

The crown counsel, Advocate Lepeli Molapo, argued that Private Matsoso acted “in the spirit of brotherhood assisting accused 1 and 2 to protect them”.
Advocate Tšabeha said the only thing that links Private Matsoso to the charges is the fact that he did not report to the police the incident.
“However, there was no need for him to do that as the matter was already reported to the police by his senior after arriving at the scene,” he said.

He reasoned that Corporal Sebolai reported to his senior about what had happened who then reported to the police.
“So was there any need for Private Matsoso not to follow the protocol of the authorities and rush straight to the police station?” he said.
“Even the army boss himself Tlali Kamoli was at the scene so much that there was no obligation on Private Matsoso to take any further steps in relation to that.”

“A mere fact that an officer has not reported an offence does not mean he can be linked to such an offence. There must be something more that could link such an officer to it.”
He further said the crown should have had evidence that there was an agreement between all the accused to commit such an offence.

He said it only proved that Private Matsoso was on duty with Corporal Sebolai and Private Ratšiu the day the incident took place and the three of them were issued their rifles of which only two weapons were linked to the offense and none of those weapons were linked to Private Matsoso.

However, Advocate Molapo argued that when soldiers are assigned to go and perform a duty at certain place, they are all expected to perform such together.
“They act, do, share and consider all together with each other,” Advocate Molapo said.

“So if the other two decided to go and shoot, this explains that the other one should stay behind still protecting that sentry,” he said.
“They first shared a common purpose when they first saw the car at the gate with lights facing the house they had guarded hence he decided to stay as the sentry could not be left alone. Someone had to guard it.”
Justice Lebotse will deliver judgment on March 5.

Itumeleng Khoete

 

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