… acquits suspect in Moramotse case
MASERU – Retired High Court judge, Justice Peete Semapo Peete, has lashed out at poor judicial systems and flawed prosecution resulting from misdirected investigations that fail to form a good base for the delivery of justice. Acquittal murder-accused, 35-year-old Thabo Moramotse on Wednesday this week, Justice Peete said the case clearly exposed systems’ failure and lack of capacity on the part of those who are supposed to bring prosecutable cases to the courts.
Thabo Moramotse was facing a charge of murder for the death of his brother’s wife, ’Mateboho Moramotse, who was gunned down at at her father-in-law’s home on June 22, 2016. She was only 23-years-old at the time of her murder. She was driving her father-in-law’s car when she was killed. The killing followed what has been described as a family feud with attached family taboos amidst alleged incest with her father-in-law.
The acquittal of Moramotse follows a long-running saga in which two of the co-accused died, while the chief investigating officer and the magistrate who recorded a confession also died before the case was finalised this week. In his remarks Judge Peete said he wanted to make it clear that the case had been shrouded with an evil cloud of secrecy. “I would say that one day…the truth will be out and they who knew the truth in that matter all along, that truth will haunt them until they go to their early grave…and I hope they die soon…a natural death,” an emotional Peete said.
He continued: “Finding an accused person not guilty has no meaning or innocence of guilt; it is the court finding that he’s not guilty of the offence charged. “The issue of innocence relates to reality …what happened at Qoaling that night, who shot ’Mateboho Moramotse, I won’t say they should burn in hell, but the truth will haunt him or them until they die.” The judge said it was understandable and commendable for the prosecution to have thrown in the towel in this case, saying it was not in the best interests of the state to pursue a case that was not going to bear any fruit.
“…it was just exemplary and it showed an exposition of the law, its exhibit and her conclusion concerning the Crown’s case was very commendable but as a court of law one must make it clear that Lesotho is facing brutality of all forms and there is a culture which is now swallowing the whole Kingdom…killing women, even three-year-old children. “That’s why I wasn’t afraid to use the word Satanic…evil, hideous,” he said, further explaining his earlier remark about the crime being Satanic. Justice Peete added all this was against the UN Charter and was a cruel and inhuman settlement of other cruel syndromes.
Concluding the case, he said the court agreed with both the lead prosecutor, Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Advocate Hlalefang Motinyane and the defense counsel that the application of such, should and must be granted and said the accused was found not guilty.
The prosecution admitted defeat after the court rejected its application to have a controversial confession by the accused admitted as evidence.
They said “without the confession there is no case.”
The confession was presented before court by the DPP to discredit Moramotse’s testimony that he is innocent of his sister-in-law’s murder.
The accused, the son of local government minister, Lehlohonolo Moramotse, rejected all content of a confession he made before the late Magistrate Phethise Motanyane owning up to involved in the murder of his sister-in-law ’Mateboho Moramotse.
He claims he was coerced into making the confession that implicates him in the murder by retired Acting Police Commissioner (ACP) Motlatsi Mapola.
In his testimony Moramotse had asserted that “ACP Mapola dictated to me what to write and I wrote every word he was dictating…meaning I was forced to write things I knew nothing about…but I had no choice, I was fearing for my life.”
Justice Peete concluded by saying the role of DPP was not easy in prosecuting this case, adding she could only fulfil her role by the assistance of the police service and that the DPP does not investigate cases. “…it is the police who should investigate and go to the greatest depths of the case and bring forth the evidence,” he reiterated.
He, however, said he knows the police are under-resourced and he recommended the use of modern electrical or electronic equipment during police interviews and that would fit well with the modern democracy where there is transparency in their modes of investigating cases.
The case was thrown out of court following the conclusion of a trial within a trial where Thabo Moramotse’s alleged confession was ruled to be inadmissible after he disowned it and accused the investigating officer of using force on him make such a statement.
Moramotse was initially charged with two others, Tekane Tekane (suspect 2) and Kheola (suspect 3), but the co-accused were all reported dead after they were shot by unknown persons prior to the hearing of the case.
The chief investigating officer Sgt Moeketse of the Lithoteng Police Station in the case was also reported dead two days before the commencement of the case while the Magistrate Phethise Motanyane, who is supposed to have taken and recorded the said confession, has since also died. Thabo Moramotse’s father also has a criminal charge pending in the court of law, having been granted M500 bail in 2020 by Magistrate Peter Murenzi while he was police and public safety minister.
This was after Moramotse senior appeared before the Maseru Magistrate court and was charged for contravening the 2020 Public Health regulations. (Covid-19 2020). The minister allegedly bought liquor from a liquor store in Borokhoaneng in contravention of lockdown regulations at the time.