- Koalabata residents urge rejection of Scott’s appeal
- Murder convict wants a free lawyer in bid to appeal his hefty jail term
LIKELELI MAJARA and
MASERU – Irate residents of Koabalata in Berea have expressed discontent over double murder convict, Lehlohonolo Scott’s bid to appeal his life imprisonment sentence – also seeking pro-deo legal representation. Scott was handed two life sentences without the possibility of parole, he was also sentenced to five years in prison for the unlawful escape from the Maseru Central Prison on October 14, 2012, while awaiting trial.
This after Justice Teboho Moiloa found him guilty of murdering his Koalabata neighbours Moholobela Seetsa (13) and Kamohelo Mohata (19), in January and June 2012 respectively. His mother, ‘Malehlohonolo Scott was given a lighter 10 years sentence as co-accused and an accessory to the crime as she was accused of aiding Scott to commit murder. She was sentenced to 10 years, three of which were suspended. Scott this week asked the high court to assist him secure a free lawyer in order to appeal his hefty jail term at the Appeal Court. The convicted murderer, who represented himself in court on Monday, argued that the Registrar of the High Court refuses to provide him with a lawyer who will offer pro-deo services.
But an unmoved Justice Molefi Makara warned Scott that it would be premature and unfair for the court to conclude that the Registrar does not want to assist him (Scott). The judge attributed the registrar’s attitude to the poor financial state of the judiciary, adding that he was fully aware how desperate the Registrar was to ensure the delivery of justice in the country. He encouraged Scott to remain faithful and optimistic that his time to secure the services of a state-paid lawyer will soon arrive. He acknowledged that in spite of the atrocities he committed, Scott is still human and has a right to appeal and fair trial.
“The court is there to protect such rights,” Justice Makara also said, posting the matter to November 22, to give room for the situation to be addressed. Scott was convicted of the 2012 murders of his two young neighbours – Moholobela Seetsa and Kamohelo Mohata – in January and July 2012 respectively. The two separate but related incidents occurred in their home village of Koalabata, Berea. The Scotts were later hauled before the Maseru Magistrate’s Court where they were remanded in custody.
Scott escaped from jail in October 2012 and after his dramatic prison-break, the prosecution was forced to postpone the trial to August 2013 with the hope he would have been recaptured by then. ’Malehlohonolo was later that month released on a M500 bail by the High Court after spending more than 10 months behind bars. This was after several applications for her pre-trial liberty were opposed by the prosecution and shot down by the court.
Opposing the bail application, the prosecution cited the gravity of the crimes. The seriousness of the charges, the prosecution maintained, stemmed largely from the manner in which the crimes were allegedly committed. Scott was subsequently captured in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South-Africa on April 6, 2014, after almost two years on the run. But following a long and bitter wrangle at the Durban North Magistrate’s Court to thwart his extradition to Lesotho, the court on May 5, 2015, ruled that Scott should be extradited to his native country.
The court maintained it had been convinced that Scott was the right person wanted by the Lesotho government in connection with the 2012 ritual murders. On October 21, 2015, Scott was finally extradited to Lesotho amid tight security. Later that day, the fugitive was brought before Justice Teboho Moiloa who remanded him in custody until November 23 when his case resumed. Shortly thereafter, Lehlohonolo Scott was returned to the Maseru Central Prison following more than a two-year absence without leave from the correctional facility.
But this week’s events, where a high court judge encouraged Scott to remain faithful and optimistic as his time to secure the services of a state-paid lawyer will soon arrive, has irked residents in Scott’s Koalabata home village. Justice Makara Molefi acknowledged that in spite of the atrocities he committed, Scott is still human and has a right to appeal and fair trial. This after Scott complained to the judge that he was not getting due diligence in terms of securing a lawyer in order to appeal his hefty sentence.
The news of Scott being given a chance to appeal were met with great trepidation by fellow residents of Koalabata who fear that the convicted ritual murderer might return to their streets. Area headman, ’Makhomo Makoanyane, told Public Eye in a visit to the village this week that the ghastly murders have left my people reeling with shock. A ruling in Scott’s favour will only make the community which was beginning to heal more vulnerable. The thought of a free Scott sends shivers down my spine because I personally gave critical evidence in court against him.
Another resident, Tieho Lelaka, said Scott deserved no mercy, and that he should rot in jail. “The man has hurt many people and if he returns to the community, they will definitely kill. People can never heal or forget what he did, he belongs in prison for the rest of his life. Innocent people had to flee the country because they were wrongly accused of his actions,” added Lelaka. More than 10 witnesses, inclusive of police officers, the area chief and neighbours testified in the marathon trial.