Mutiny soldier takes battle to High Court

Mutiny soldier takes battle to High Court

 MASERU – A senior soldier accused of mutiny has taken his fight to the High Court.
Major Pitso Ramoepane wants the High Court to order the Court Martial to permanently stop prosecuting him.
Filed last Friday, the application came a few days after Judge Advocate of the Court Martial, Justice Mathanzima Maqutu, rejected another bid by Major Ramoepane and his co-accused to drop their mutiny charges and set them free.

In dismissing that initial application in the Court Martial, Justice Maqutu said it is clear that Major Ramoepane, Captain Litekanyo Nyakane and Captain Boiketsiso Fonane had cases to answer.
He said the three should fight the charges in the Court Martial.
This has compelled Major Ramoepane to seek a review in the High Court.

The High Court on Monday ordered the Court Martial to temporarily stop Major Ramoepane’s trial pending finalization of the application to review Justice Maqutu’s decision.
High Court’s Justice Tšeliso Monaphathi will hear the application on February 4.
Major Ramoepane’s is represented by Advocate Karabo Mohau KC.

Justice Maqutu based his decision on testimonies from witnesses claimed that Captain Nyakane and Captain Fonane were present at the home of the late Colonel Tefo Hashatsi when mutiny against the now late army boss, Lieutenant General Khoantle Motšomotšo, was planned.
Justice Maqutu said they should have either quelled the mutiny or reported it to the authorities because they knew about it.
Evidence is that 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 court heard the Major Ramoepane told Lance Corporal Tefo Molupe on the day of Lt. Gen. Motšomotšo’s assassination that “he had heard that the late Hashatsi and (Brigadier Bulane Sechele) were going to confront the commander.”

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 allegation 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 court held that Major Ramoepane knew that the commander was going to be attacked as he was in a meeting with the late Brigadier Sechele and Colonel Hashatsi before they confronted and shot him dead. “The fact that Ramoepane told the witness who testified before this court that he was going to meet Bulane and Sechele who were to confront the commander on why he was selling them, leads to the fact that they had a meeting and he left knowing well that the confrontation was going to happen,” Justice Maqutu. Major Ramoepane thinks the High Court will come to a different conclusion.

Itumeleng Khoete

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