…Lesotho/SA Extradition Treaty impedes justice



MASERU – The Extradition Treaty signed between Lesotho and South Africa remains another barrier in the application of the law relating to the death penalty. This is the view of human rights lawyer, former law and justice minister, Advocate Haae Phoofolo KC, who is also a former Attorney General. Phoofolo further highlighted that most of those who commit heinous crimes in the country often flee to neighbouring South Africa to evade justice.

These fugitives, Phoofolo continued, end up not experiencing the full might of Lesotho’s laws if they are arrested in the country. In South Africa, the death penalty was repealed just after the advent of democracy in 1994. At present, and due to the escalating number of murders, the issue of the death penalty is being seriously debated once again – by ordinary citizens, politicians, theologians, and other sections of society.

And Phoofolo indicates that with the status quo in South Africa no person arrested for any crime in that country can be sentenced to death in Lesotho – per the treaty. He said because of this, after committing murder a lot of Basotho run to South Africa knowing that even if they get arrested they will not be sentenced to death.

Advocate Phoofolo says Lehlohonolo Scott is one of the many Basotho that fled to South Africa after committing murder in Lesotho. “For Lesotho law enforcement agencies to have Scott extradited to stand trial in the country and to serve his sentence, an agreement had to be signed with South Africa that if found guilty, Scott would not be given a death sentence,” he clarified.

Scott, who has now been convicted, was initially charged only for murdering fellow neighbours, Moholobela Seetsa and Kamohelo Mohata in January and June 2012, respectively, but he was later charged with unlawful escape from prison after making a sensational escape in October the same year. He was arrested along with his mother on July 12, 2012, following the discovery of Seetsa and Mohata’s mutilated bodies in Koalabata. It was believed by residents that the bodies were used for ritual purposes.

After almost two years on the run, Scott was re-arrested in Durban, South Africa, on April 6, 2014, and lost his fight against extradition in the Verulam Magistrate’s Court on May 5, 2015. He was extradited to Lesotho on October 21, 2015, to stand trial. The trial was finalised in November 2019 after almost eight years since the arrest. Justice Teboho Moiloa also ruled that Lehlohonolo’s mother, ’Malehlohonolo Scott, was an accessory to murder.

The judge said he agreed with the Crown’s submission that ’Malehlohonolo knew about the killings. “I don’t accept that she did not see or smell the blood; she must have been aware of Scott’s dealings so I find her guilty for being an accessory in Count 2 (the murder of Kamohelo Mohata),” he ruled. He sentenced her to 10 years but three of these were suspended. Scott was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole.

He also sentenced Scott to five years in prison for his unlawful escape from the Maseru Central Prison while awaiting trial. “On Count 3 (unlawful escape from custody), the accused is sentenced to five years in prison. The court takes into account that careful planning was executed with the help of external people to help accused number one (Scott to escape),” the judge said.

Justice Moiloa further noted that Scott fled to South Africa where he was difficult to find, attributing that this indicated that Scott must have had access to highly placed persons who helped him to escape. Justice Moiloa said Crown Counsel Advocate Gareth Leppan told the court that Scott was extradited to Lesotho by South Africa in 2015 on condition he would not be sentenced to death if found guilty.


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