The first accused in the murder case of the late Police Constable Mokalekale Khetheng has pleaded not guilty to the murder charge meted against him.
Thabo Tšukulu is charged alongside four other persons Mothibeli Mofolo, Mabitle Matona, Haleokoe Taasoane, Molahlehi Peter Letsoepa all of whom are or were at the time of the murder, members of the police, in the case set to commence today at the High Court of Lesotho before Justice Charles Hungwe.
Yesterday the accused were read charges, although the others could not plead because their legal representatives were not present in court.
The first accused will be represented by Advocate Kabelo Mohau while the lawyers of the rest of accused failed to pitch at the High Court with excuses that some are sick.
Khetheng was cold bloodedly murdered and his body dumped by the river in Ha Mokhalinyane, before being kept at the Lesotho Funeral Service as unknown and later buried at a paupers’ funeral in a mass grave at the Lepereng graveyard and then exhumed when police investigations pointed thither.
Tšukulu pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
The Crown council is going to be represented by Advocate Shaun Abrahams and ‘Naki Nku.
The indictment of the accused police officers indicated that the suspects are all charged of murder, while the first and second suspects are also accused of obstruction of the course of justice and perjury for making a false statement material to the course of judicial proceedings.
Tšukulu and Mofolo will also bear load of the fourth count in which they are charged for issuing of superior order (s) to perjury, with an alternative of inducing another to commit perjury as well as the fifth count.
“In that upon or about 26th to the 27th day March 2016, and at or near Ha Setho, Mokhalinyane in the district of Maseru and or at or near Hlotse in the district of Leribe and or at or near places unknown to the Crown in the district of Maseru, the accused and Peter Letsoepa, the then Commissioner of Police and persons unknown to the crown, in furtherance of a shared common intention and or common purpose, did unlawfully and intentionally cause the death of Mokalekale Khetheng, such death resulting from the acts or omission(s) of the accused. Therefore, the accused are guilty of contravening section 40 (1), read with sections 26 (1) and 40 (2) of the Penal Code Act, 2010.
Alternately only to accused one, that the accused is accused of the crime of contravening section 27, read with section 40 (1) 40 (2) and 109 of the Penal Code Act, 2010, Act N0.6 0f 2012,” the charge reads.
“Whereas the accused was the deputy commanding officer, Hlotse, Leribe Police Station and whereas the accused was duty bound to serve the Kingdom of Lesotho diligently and impartially, having due regards to the constitution, and whereas the accused was duty bound to preserve peace, maintain law and order, to prevent all offences against person and property, to detect offences, apprehend offenders and to bring offenders to justice and to discharge his duties faithfully and in accordance with the law.
“In that during the period March 26, 2016 to August 4, 2017, and at or near Hlotse, in Leribe district and at or near places unknown to the Crown in the district of Maseru, the accused, knowing full that on or about the 26 and 27th day March 2016, the second accused, Mothibeli Mofolo, third accused, Mabitle Matona, fourth accused Haleokoe Taasoane and the then Commissioner of Police, Molahlehi Peter Letsoepa and persons unknown to the Crown, in furtherance of a shared common intention and or common purpose, unlawfully and intentionally caused the death of Khetheng,” the document adding that Tsukulu aided in the escape mission of Letsoepa and others.
“And whereas the accused assisted the second to fifth accused in escaping arrest and or apprehension in that the accused unlawfully and intentionally and falsely stated that the deceased, has left the Hlotse Police Station on March 26, 2016, of his own accord and had since disappeared, when this was in fact and in truth not correct. And that the accused omitted to facilitate the apprehension of second to fifth accused.
“Count two, obstruction of the course of justice (bringing the administration into disrepute) – only accused one and two. That the accused being members of Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) did willfully bring the administration of justice into disrepute to wit; by falsely stating that the deceased, an adult man and member of LMPS, had left the Hlotse Police Station on March 26, 2016.
The indictment further states that the father of Khetheng’s application to have the body found was timeously opposed by the commissioner of police.
“By falsely stating that the deceased Khetheng, an adult male and member of LMPS, had not been arrested by members of the Hlotse Criminal Investigation Division (CID) of the LMPS on March 26, when this was in fact and in truth not correct, while these acts and or omissions, resulted in Thabo Khetheng, the father of the deceased, filing an urgent habeas corpus application to compel the Commissioner of police and or Commanding Hlotse Police Station to produce the deceased, Mokalekale Khetheng dead or alive, and which application was opposed by the accused, when they in fact knew what happened to the deceased and where the body of the deceased had been dumped.
“Whereas the body having been buried unidentified and exhumed to be identified, the first and second accused are further accused of perjury-fabricating evidence and or knowingly making use of fabricated evidence in judicial proceedings. They were also accused for lying and issuing the superior orders to perjury.
“In that during the period of July 18, 2016 to August 14 2017, the said accused did with the intent to deceive in the judicial proceeding in the matter of Thabo Khetheng versus Commissioner of police and others, Maseru High Court case number CIV/APN/276/2016, fabricating evidence and or knowingly made use of fabricated evidence, to wit; by stating that the deceased had left the Hlotse Police Station on March 26, 2016 on his own accord and had since disappeared, when this was in fact and in truth not correct.
“In that during period 18 July 2016 to August 14 2017, the said accused who were in positions of authority over Mabohlokoa Makotoko, an adult female holding the rank of Constable in the LMPS, stationed at Hlotse Criminal Investigation Division (CID), did issue an order to Makotoko and Tumelo Ntoane, to wit, to testify under oath that; the deceased, has left the Hlotse Police Station on March 26, 2016, of his own accord while she and her colleagues had been on lunch break, while this was in fact and in truth not correct,” the document reads.
The case, which is likely to be a marathon affair with over 50 witnesses, continues today in the High Court where the first witness will take the stand.