‘Insane’ soldier to stand trial

‘Insane’ soldier to stand trial

MASERU-A soldier who had been deemed mentally unsound was this week ordered to stand trial on a charge of murder.
High Court judge Justice Onkemetse Tshosa ruled that Corporal Khauhelo Makoae was fit to stand trial.

Corporal Makoae had over the last few months received treatment at the Mohlomi Mental Hospital after his colleagues who are detained at the Maseru Maximum Prison saw his strange behaviour.

The court received a psychiatrist’s assessment report on Monday advising it that he was fit to be tried on a charge of murder.
Corporal Makoae and four other soldiers are accused of killing three civilians in Mafeteng in 2012. They have been in remand prison since 2017.
His lawyer, Advocate Mkhantji Kao, however insisted on Tuesday that Corporal Makoae should not stand trial because he was mentally unfit.

He said the soldier was now demanding to be taken to the crime scene to help him prepare for the trial.
“My client wanted to go to the scene before he could be tried by the court to prepare himself for the trial,” Advocate Kao said.

“He has since communicated with the prison authorities about his request and they told him to go and get a court order allowing him to go there.”
Corporal Makoae’s legal team had applied before the court to be released saying he was not fit enough to stand trial because he had been showing signs of mental illness while in prison.

However, Justice Tshosa said “the court has decided to believe what the doctor said and as a result (Makoae) will stand trial regardless of whether you have concerns or not”.
However, his other lawyer Advocate ’Matheoha Kao argued that “the medical report does not state facts nor give evidence on the status of the accused person”.

Advocate ’Matheoha Kao said she had difficulties when consulting him and as a result, she had to go through a tough time before they could agree on what they were discussing.
“Makoae has since been delivered several times to the mental hospital as he had shown mental problems while still in prison,” Advocate ’Matheoha Kao said.

“I thought the medical report would state what they had discovered on my client but it does not show anything,” she said.
She said she was not even given the opportunity to consult with her client as the report arrived the same day the order was made.
The crown counsel, Advocate Mosoeunyane Masiphole, argued there was no need for lawyers to raise concerns as the report had stated that the accused was fit enough to stand trial.

He said the person who compiled the report is a doctor who examined him so no other person is in a position to make any other comments based on the reports.
“No one other than then examiner can bring evidence regarding what was said in the medical report,” Advocate Masiphole said.
“The report indicated that the accused can stand trial, no one can challenge the report,” he said.

However, Advocate Zwelakhe Mda, who was part of the defence team, said even though the report concluded that Corporal Makoae is fit to stand trial, “it still should have shown the facts it had referred to”.
Nevertheless, Justice Tshosa said even though the lawyers seem to be unsatisfied with the report, he had made up his mind “and will never get to the issue of this report ever again or redo another ruling as I have made up my mind”.

“Even if you can apply challenging the decision made by the doctor, I would not give any ruling on that,” he said.
He said the court had accepted everything that was in the report.

Itumeleng Khoete

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