. . . funeral service employee testifies in long-running Kheteng case
MASERU – While giving testimony in the long-drawn-out murder case, Lesotho Funeral Services employee, Maamoelang Sechaba said on Wednesday this week that the late Police Constable Mokalekale Khetheng’s body arrived at the eleventh hour as their company was preparing to bury unknown corpses in 2016. Sechaba told High Court Justice Charles Hungwe that the company had prepared for 40 unknown bodies but that they received two other bodies from their Ha Majane branch making a total of 42.
However, she says police investigations identified one other body which was then handed to the family before the burial and they were now left with 41. Sechaba said her manager at the time, said since they had prepared for the burial of 40 bodies, the additional one would be buried with any other person. The 41st body was that of Khetheng as police investigations later revealed. “I learned that one of the unknowns was Mokalekale Khetheng and that he was part of two bodies brought from Ha Majane,” Sechaba said. Another witness, Ntsenki Nei of the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS), administration department, CID told the court that he received an instruction around August 2017 that there was a suspicion that one of the bodies buried was that of Khetheng.
Nei said he then approached the Magistrate Court to apply for exhumation of a body believed to be that of Khetheng. “The application was granted and we proceeded to Lepereng where the bodies were buried and used what we call a plan used in the burial and we used it again to locate where the mass grave was.”
He added: “We dug until we reached what we believed was the corpse needed, took it back to the mortuary and it was now an unknown body again under my care.” Nei told the court that he then had a meeting with Khetheng’s family in a bid to authenticate that the body exhumed belonged to PC Khetheng. He said they went to Queen Elizabeth II hospital to draw blood samples from PC Khetheng’s brothers. On the alleged PC Khetheng’s body, he said a hip bone and hair were extracted and sent to a police forensic unit.
“The results came and confirmed that indeed the body belonged to PC Khetheng,” he said. Nei said he then communicated with the family to find out how they intended to deal with the body and release it to them when they request to bury it.
In cross examination, Advocate Karabo Mohau KC asked on behalf of Superintendent Thabo Tšukulu as to who communicated the need to apply for exhumation and if the request was verbal or written, to which Nei responded that it was communicated to him by one Inspector Lebajoa, a Lance Seageant at the time. The communication he said was verbal and that the application for exhumation was the one to be written. Advocate Mohau also asked Nei if the request for the need for exhumation had some sort of background as to why it was necessary to so exhume and Nei said the information received was that there was a deceased person from Ha Setho whose fate they wanted to know.
“I told them indeed there is an unknown person from Ha Setho and they said such a person was at Mokalinyane and they wanted to know where they ended up.” The trial was then postponed to November 4 due to unavailability of the next witness in line. Superintendent Thabo Tšukulu, Mathibeli Mofolo, Inspector Mabitle Matona and Police Constable (PC) Haleokoe Tasoane stand accused of murdering PC Khetheng.
Khetheng went missing after he was arrested by his colleagues at a traditional feast in his home village of Sebothoane, Leribe on March 25, 2016. It is alleged that instead of duly booking him, Hlotse police handed him over to their colleagues from Maseru who were in the company of members of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF). His disappearance then prompted his father Thabo Khetheng to lodge an application before the High Court on July 18, 2016 demanding that he be produced in court dead or alive but police authorities defended the matter in court, contending Khetheng had absconded from duty and his whereabouts were unknown.
Police also accused Thabo Khetheng’s family of deliberately omitting crucial information in his court papers. They contended that Khetheng’s father clearly had no “intimate” knowledge of his son’s movements and whereabouts.One of the police officers who arrested Khetheng at his home in Sebothoane, Leribe later testified against her superiors when the matter continued in court.