Crime & CourtNews

Ramoepana demands acquittal

…as govt withdraws murder charges against him

Lerato Matheka

Murder accused Major Pitso Ramoepana is demanding acquittal following the state’s decision to withdraw murder charges against him.

His lawyer, Advocate Karabo Mohau told Judge Onkemetse Tshosa that his client, who has been detained at the Maseru Maximum Security Prison from September 14, 2017 is demanding that the state acquit him of the murder charges of army boss Lieutenant General Khoantle Motšomotšo.

The army boss was shot dead on September 5, 2017 allegedly by a group of high-ranking officers at the Ratjomose Barracks.

Reports suggested Motšomotšo was ambushed by Colonel Bulane Sechele and Lt Col Tefo Hashatsi who were also killed during the incident.

When addressing the court, Advocate Mohau pointed out that Ramoepana has raised financial strains he suffered while paying for legal representation from 2017.

“My client instructed that I inform the court that since his charges which suggested that he shot the deceased several times all over the body, he subsequently sought the discovering docket of the day of the incident but was refused access up to a point where he resorted to legal intervention. His application was unsuccessful costing him money.

“Partial discovery was eventually made, and today we are informed that there are other issues that have been discovered. Over the last two years and two months, he has had to incur legal expenses, instructing lawyers to appear on his behalf on numerous occasions even way before your involvement, which has been a great loss on him until this week when charges are being dropped. He demands that the state give clear reasons for the withdrawal,” Mohau said.

He added, “My client is concerned that the DPP’s information to withdraw charges against remain unclear, two year and two months after imprisonment. The crown submitted that the discretion to withdraw the charges are that of the DPP alone thus there can’t be any objection by the accused, but how would the accused person ponder on the basis of an unclear withdrawal.”

The state on Monday when making known their intentions to withdraw charges suggest an inquest into LT-Gen Motšomotšo’s murder be initiated.

“The crown emphasised a point of public interest and suggested an inquest yet reasons of withdrawal are not clear. Lack of reason is going to prolong the anguish of knowing whether the charges will be reinstated following the investigations by the suggested inquest. We therefore submit that the accused be acquitted of the murder charges and this issue be done and dusted,” Mohau said.

South African prosecutor for the state, Shaun Abrahams indicated that the decision of the state to withdraw the charges was advised by new information that has emerged.

“I have already told the court that in my interaction with some of the witnesses in this matter, it emerged that there was not enough evidence to prosecute and I advised the DPP on the matter whose results is to withdraw the charges against the accused of acting in common purpose in particular with Hashatsi and Sechele, and that is the reason,” he said.

Abrahams argued that the acquittal can only happen if the accused was faced with the murder charges, “…but in this case, it cannot be applicable.”

Judge Tshosa postponed the matter to next week Wednesday, December 4.

Major Ramoepane first appeared before the Magistrate Court on September 28, 2017 when the charges relating to the death of Lt-Gen Motšomotšo were preferred against him.

Major Ramoepane also faces a culpable homicide charge for allegedly shooting and killing Thabo Selemo in Tšenola, Motse-mocha on 25 August 2007.

Major Ramoepana is one of three soldiers currently still facing mutiny charges in relation to the events that led to the September 5 2017’s assassination of army commander, Lieutenant General Khoantle Motšomotšo, alongside Captains Boiketsiso Fonane and Litekanyo Nyakane.

Advocate Kabelo Letuka, from Ramoepana’s defence team briefly in a separate interview told Newsday that the state’s decision to withdraw the murder charges is separate from the mutiny charges Ramoepana is faced with before the Court Martial.

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