TEBOHO KHATEBE MOLEFI
MASERU – The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Advocate Hlalefang Motinyane, has appealed Magistrate Peter Murenzi’s May 12 discharge of Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Paseka Mokete of his sexual assault charges after he allegedly manhandled a subordinate female officer. The 47-year-old Mokete was accused of contravening the Sexual Offence Act, facing charges of sexual offence, malicious damage to property and assault as an alternative charge.
The complainant in the matter was Lesotho Police Staff Association Deputy Secretary General, Inspector ’Makatleho Mphetho. Mokete registered a not guilty plea. A high profile legal team of Attorneys Koili Ndebele and Monaheng Rasekoai, however, managed to secure Mokete’s acquittal after filing an application for discharge on March 26 with the Crown having exhausted all its evidence.
According to the DPP in submitting her grounds for appeal to the High Court, Magistrate Murenzi misdirected himself to come to a wrong conclusion that the evidence advanced by the Crown was not sufficient to secure a conviction. Motinyane argues that the court was presented with clear evidence that Mphetho’s buttocks were touched and her trousers torn – an indication that force was applied upon her person.
“The learned magistrate erred and misdirected himself and came to a wrong conclusion in holding that the undisputed statements of the eyewitnesses regarding the unlawful application of force are merely bare implicatory evidence not to be relied upon even though the witnesses are clear that they saw the accused chasing and grabbing the complainant by her clothes,” says Advocate Motinyane in papers before court.
The magistrate further erred in failing to invoke strict liability in circumstances where it was necessary to do so, and ought to have held that Mokete committed the offence in seeking to achieve his purpose of retrieving his letter from the complainant, the DPP submits. She also faults Magistrate Murenzi in failing to find guilty in respect of all the offences he stood charged of and in holding that the failure by the Inspector Mphetho to talk to the eyewitnesses about what happened meant that the crimes were not committed.
“The magistrate misdirected himself in holding that the complainant could not have walked around with ripped trousers when it is clear that the belt loop and the pocket button were the ones that were torn and could not preclude the complainant from walking around with.” Motinyane said all these required for DCP Mokete to have been put to his defence, and answer.
The charge sheet read in part that DCP Mokete was being charged with the crime of sexual offence in contravention of Section 3 (2) of the Sexual Offence Act No 3/2003; in that about April 29, 2020, at or near the National Assembly in Maseru he unlawfully committed an unlawful sexual act to Inspector Mphetho by touching her buttocks without her consent.
Alternative to the sexual offence, Mokete faced an assault charge for contravening Section 30 read with 109 of the Penal Code Act No 6/2010. It was alleged that on the same day (April 29, 2020), he unlawfully applied force by pulling and dragging Mphetho, thereby assaulting her. He also faced a charge of malicious damage to property in contravention of Section 72 read with Section 109 of the Penal Code Act No 6/ 2010 in that on the same day he, without lawful exercise and acting with the intention damage the property of Inspector Mphetho, tore her pair of trousers.