- Disgruntled lawmen threaten to drop out of the trial
- Chief Justice asked to get to the bottom of the matter
MASERU – There is still no payment for lawyers involved in the trial in which some members of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) are accused of the 2017 murder of three men whose bodies were later retrieved from the Mohale Dam.
This is despite the Chief Justice’s intervention to help get to the bottom of the matter.Chief Justice Sakoane Sakoane was this week requested by the presiding judge, Justice Moroke Mokhesi to step in after both lawyers for the defence and prosecution complained in the High Court about their unpaid legal fees.When the case that had been postponed on Monday this week resumed the following day, the government had still not made a commitment as to when the unpaid bills would be settled.The case has since been postponed to April 17 to 26, 2023, while the court finds a way to get the disgruntled lawyers sorted out.
The lead prosecutor in the case, Senior Counsel Shaun Abrahams has threatened to withdraw from the trial unless his fees were paid in full.He said he only received part of his bill for the services he rendered in the case last year.This is despite the fact that the former National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) at the South African National Prosecuting Authority had told the court on Monday that he and his team were ready to proceed with the matter.
Abrahams had also informed the court that three witnesses were already on standby to testify.The defence team that comprises among others, Advocates Letuka Molati and Napo Mafaesa also threatened to stop representing the accused soldiers if their pro deo fees were not paid.The lawyers also argued that there was no commitment on the part the Registrar of the High Court, who promised to pay their bills.
The accused soldiers are alleged to have strangled Lekhoele Noko, Khothatso Makibinyane and Molise Pakela at the military camp in Setibing on the outskirts of Maseru on May 16, 2017.The soldiers accused the three men who were members of a notorious famo gang of the fatal shooting of another soldier at the Maseru Bridge earlier.A deadly gun-fight ensued when soldiers who were in civvies attempted to search a group of men on suspicion that they were armed with illegal firearms.
Another soldier was injured in the shoot-out.Police investigations which later ensured did not link the three dead men to the fatal shooting.The decomposing bodies of the trio were in December 2017 retrieved from the Mohale Dam by members of the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) through the assistance of their South African counterparts.The accused also face charges of conspiracy to murder, unlawful detention and issuing unlawful orders.