New dates for Editor’s attempted murder trial


  • Defence wants charges against the soldiers dropped
  • The accused contend that the state witness knows their defence strategy


MASERU – The trial in which four soldiers are accused of the attempted murder of the former editor of Lesotho Times, Lloyd Mutungamiri, is expected to proceed next Tuesday. The matter, which continues before Maseru Senior Resident Magistrate Peter Murenzi is also scheduled to proceed on October 20 and November 3. This, after the long-running case was postponed on July 19, and Private Mahanyane Phusumane, who has since turned state witness against his former co-accused, is expected to give his evidence-in-chief as the second Crown witness.

Phusumane was in September 2019 set free from the Maseru Prison in order to testify against Rapelang Mphaki, Khutlang Mochesane, Nyatso Tšoeunyane and Maribe Nathane, who are still behind bars in the remand prison. The five soldiers had initially been charged together for the attempted murder of Mutungamiri, a Zimbabwe national, at his Lower Thamae, Maseru residence on July 9, 2016.

During the hearing, Mutungamiri, who had to be flown from his native country into Lesotho in order to testify as the Crown’s first witness, was placed under heavy security, as he said he feared for his life. He told the court that, owing to the injuries he sustained during the shooting, he is no longer able to work. After several postponements for an array of reasons, the lead prosecutor in the trial, Advocate Rethabile Setlojoane, recently took a swing at the defence lawyers, accusing them of deliberately delaying the case.

Earlier in July, the matter failed to proceed because the defence team claimed that one of them had misplaced the case’s file. Murenzi, had to reschedule the case to July 10, 11, and 19. Mphaki, Mochesane, Tšoeunyane and Nathane have since filed an application in court, arguing that it is inappropriate for Phusumane to testify against them, as he knows their defence strategy from the time he was still part of them. The defence team comprises King’s Counsel Karabo Mohau, Advocates Letuka Molati and Kabelo Letuka. They want the case to be referred to the Constitutional Court in order for the charges against their clients to be quelled.

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