Peshoane in court on sexual harassment charges

LIKELELI MAJARA, SEKETE LESAOANA and

SERIALONG LELUMA

MASERU – A legal bid to have his case where he faces sexual harassment charges moved from the magistrate to the Constitutional Court has been dismissed, with Magistrate ‘Mamorojele Qoo ruling that the Transformation Resource Center (TRC) director, Tsikoane Peshoane, has failed to correctly and satisfactorily meet the requirements of Section 128 (1) and 22 (3) of the constitution.

Peshoane, 41, first appeared before the Maseru Magistrate Court on July 4 charged with three counts of sexual harassment. He was, however, granted bail and released on own recognizance yesterday. The TRC director is alleged to have abused his power and authority as the director of the TRC when he sexually harassed four women. The first one, Itumeleng Tsukuhali (28), alleges Peshoane is said to have threatened not to renew her contract should she not engage in a sexual act with him.

Peshoane is charged under Section 5 (2) of the Sexual Offences Act. He is also accused of sexually harassing Lerato Pharoe (32) ’Mapitso Ramoeketsi (30) and ’Masenono Letsie (37). Arguing in Tsikoane’s defence and in the quest for the case’s referral to the High Court of Lesotho, Advocate Chris Lephuthing highlighted that there are facts of law facts to be determined for this case to be taken to the high court considering the conduct of the police in this matter.

“If the conduct of the police is implicated in the manner it has in this case, that does not only compromise my client but also the law. If the conduct of the police in this matter is investigated, it will appear as premature and presumptuous to continue with the remand of my client now that a parallel investigation is supposed to be launched.

“It is critical to determine the conduct of the police in this matter My Lady because if it could be found that they are indeed in error then that is a serious contempt that should be investigated,” said Advocate Lephuthing.

Advocate Lephuthing requested to apply for referral to the high court in terms of Section 128 of the Constitution. He claimed that the police compelled one Simon Fako to make a falsified statement against Peshoane.  Advocate Lephuthing went on to present before the court questions of law which he said are crucial as Peshoane deserves a fair trial – as the court is confronted with some sort of a conspiracy.

He questioned if the police are allowed to influence the outcome of the case to implicate an individual. Lephuthing further pointed to what he deemed an anomaly that three or four ladies sexually harassed between 2018 and 2020 happen to report the same act on the same day to the same identified police officers. The defense’s suspicion is that the complainants have been recruited by the police for a specific agenda – hence they are now reporting cases from about five years ago.

On the other hand, the Crown, through Advocate Qcinumuzi Tshabalala, responded that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has not been in anyway pressured to charge Peshoane. He said the application of referral by the defense was purely on assumptions, highlighting that if there were any allegations there should be evidence presented by the defense to the court. “If there are allegations of misconduct by the police into this matter, the police should have investigated them but because there are none that is why Mr Peshoane is before the court today.

“If Mr Fako was brought in for ulterior motives by the police, then the defense should show that in court, even the affidavit has not been presented in court. It was our humble submission that the application be declined to take the matter to the High Court,” Tshabalala said. For her part Magistrate Mamorojele Qoo said it is her who has a say in the matter being to be transferred to the high court – not that it should be insinuated by the defense.

The magistrate said there are no authorities given to substantiate the application of the accused, she also rebuked Advocate Lephuthing saying he knew prior to the court date that he would have to present authorities for their applications. The appearance of Peshoane in court follows a series of events that include the TRC board clearing him of corruption charges leveled against him by the organisation’s staffers, where 16 of workers had written to the board accusing Peshoane of unfair labour practices, poor financial management, poor project management and the misuse of organisation’s funds and assets. Peshoane was subsequently suspended and investigations into the staffers allegations were launched.

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