LEMOHANG TŠEHLA and
MASERU – Embattled Lesotho Congress for the Democracy (LCD) leader, Mothetjoa Metsing’s M4 000 release on bail in a South African court has renewed his party’s crusade against the prosecution of the former deputy prime minister. Metsing on Monday appeared before the Ladybrand magistrate court facing charges of corruption, fraud and tax evasion. This follows his arrest by the South African Police Services (SAPS) on Saturday, 2nd July at Maseru Bridge and was remanded in custody awaiting his bail hearing scheduled for Tuesday. Explaining why LCD considers Metsing’s charges to be political not criminal, deputy party leader Tšeliso Mokhosi said a charge can only stand in court where there are witnesses.
He said there are no witnesses that can say Metsing tried to topple the government. Moreover, he said they are political because the government can order anyone’s arrest and judgment without witnesses. Mokhosi further rubbished the tax evasion charge that was laid against Metsing, which he said is untrue, adding Metsing never had businesses as he has only served his life as a civil servant. Therefore, there is no way he can be found guilty of tax evasion.
Thabang Phakoe, the chairman of LCD said they are hurt because Metsing was arrested unlawfully. A letter wroitten by the minister of law and constitutional affairs Advocate Lekhethotho Rakuoane to SA’s minister of justice states it has come to the attention of the government of Lesotho that the suspect has been arrested. It also states that they do not have any objection to the suspect being granted bail on the terms and conditions set by the court. Therefore, on Tuesday Metsing was granted a M4 000 bail on terms that he reports to the police station every month. The case is set to resume on August 2.
While addressing the media outside court, Metsing expressed gratitude for what the Lesotho government has done for him. “I would like to express my gratitude to the people I thought have made my release possible, the government of Lesotho made it possible,” he said. He also expressed gratitude to South Africa’s high commissioner Moloto. “Moloto has been with me all the way,” Metsing said, “He has been following this matter all the way engaging with Moseneke and his team.”
Metsing further expressed gratitude to his followers saying they are always with him during his hour of need. Metsing was part of Tom Thabane’s first coalition government between 2012 and 2014 where he served as a Deputy Prime Minister. He fled to South Africa in 2017 after the Lesotho government made its first attempts to charge him with treason for the alleged 2014 coup. It was allegedly reported that Metsing had tried to remove the government and its powers.
Among other charges, Metsing has also been charged with the murder charge of police Sub-Insepector Mokheseng Ramahloko who was killed on the night of an attempted coup when soldiers raided police stations to disarm the police officials who were loyal to Thabane. However, he returned to Lesotho a year later after the intervention of SADC. Moreover, Metsing and Movement for Economic Change (MEC) leader, Minister of planning and development Selibe Mochoboroane appeared before the high court charged with treason, murder and attempted murder over incidents of August 30, 2014.
In this trial, the duo joined the former Lesotho defense force (LDF) Commander Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli and other soldiers. This came after the constitutional court ruled that they be joined for their role in the treasonous act of August 2014. Speaking in an interview with Public Eye on Tuesday this week, LCD spokesperson Teboho Sekata said that the arrest of Metsing has no impact on the party’s prospects come elections in September.
Sekata urged the followers of the party to remain calm and hopeful as things are still under control. “We will launch our manifesto in due course”, he said. Justice minister Adv. Rakuoane said it would be unfair to deny Metsing bail in the Ladybrand magistrate court for charges that he has never been charged with in his own country. He went on to say that at the moment politicians are preparing for the upcoming general elections and he would not like to stand in the suspect’s way of preparing.
However, he also said that Metsing had requested to come home for his trials so he thinks it is only fair for him to come to Lesotho to be prosecuted for the charges he faces “Metsing cannot stand trials in Lesotho while being held custody in South Africa,” he said. Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday this week, pertaining treason case Mokhosi said Metsing and Mochoboroane should be treated fairly since the government of Lesotho and SADC agreed that all such charges should be placed on hold until the reforms are over.
He went on to say they are not scared of the case but they are only basing themselves on the principle that SADC should enforce the law and the government of Lesotho should not disown the agreement that it had with SADC. Mokhosi thanked the government of Lesotho and further cleared the confusion that Metsing’s warrant of arrest was issued by the chief justice Sakoane Sakoane. Instead, he said the warrant of arrest was issued by one officer Khomo.