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Judge gives Metsing tongue-lashing

By Thoboloko Ntšonyane

MASERU – Judge ‘Maliepollo Makhetha has in no certain terms expressed the court’s disapproval of the conduct displayed by the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) leader and former Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Hon. Mothetjoa Metsing.

Judge Makhetha was unequivocal that the court does in no way condone the attitude of Hon. Metsing for his no-show before the court without giving an explanation and for absconding from the court for eight months.

These developments unfolded on Wednesday in the Maseru High Court where the former DPM made his first appearance before the court and ultimately joined in the ongoing treason trial where he is charged along with the former Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) Commander Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli, Captain Litekanyo Nyakane, Lance Corporals Motloheloa Ntsane and Leutsoa Motsieloa and Minister of Development Planning and Movement for Economic Change leader Hon. Selibe Mochoboroane, being the first to sixth respondent respectively.

The suspects face 10 counts which include treason, murder of Sub-Inspector Mokheseng Ramahloko and attempted murder amongst other charges.

The trial judge said the LCD leader’s failure to appear before the court in December last year amounts to contempt.

“The time has lapsed between December and today is considerable and calls for the court’s attention,” Judge Makhetha said.

Sending a “strong message of reprimand” to the accused, she said: “The accused is the political leader and the former Deputy Prime Minister of this country, as such, it is expected highly of him to set a good example to the nation when it comes to compliance with the court’s orders.

“He must practice what he preaches to his followers against crimes commission, for indeed a contempt of court is a punishable criminal offence in this court. The accused is a legislator, he cannot make laws to break them.

“His conduct in handling the court’s orders in the present case is condemned from all its phases. This is the kind of conduct that will bring the reputation and integrity of this court into disrepute. It is most likely to undermine the public confidence in the administration of justice in this country.

“Therefore the accused must not consider himself above any law. He must avoid being mistaken for a leader who is taking advantage of this standing in society to become a law unto himself and this message he must take home and live it.”

Metsing’s appearance follows the long-drawn-out negotiations between his lawyer Advocate Motiea Teele King’s Counsel (KC) and the crown. It would be inferred that amongst what was agreed by both parties, as the crown counsel Advocate Shaun Abrahams told the court, is that the recent application of June 17, moved by Metsing be revoked.

In that application, he had petitioned the court to reverse the warrant of arrest for him and that he be admitted to bail.

It is during this appearance that his warrant of arrest issued on December 6, 2021, was cancelled and he was released on bail.

His bail conditions are that, as they appear in the draft settlement and were subsequently made the order of the court by the trial judge: he stands trial to finality; he appears before the court whenever so directed; he does not interfere with crown witnesses; he pays bail in the sum of M50 000.00 by no later than August 11, 2022, at 10 am; he provides one independent person to stand him surety of M100 000.00; he reports to Leribe police station every Friday between 8 am and 1600hrs; he hands his passport and or travelling documents to investigating officer, Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Sera Makharilele and that he should seek permission, which should not be “unreasonably refused” to DCP Makharilele every time he needs to travel abroad.

Following the unsuccessful protracted legal bids to ward off the charges against them, Messrs. Metsing and Mochoboroane were ultimately joined as a fifth accused in CRI/T/0001/2018 along with the soldiers having been imprisoned for about five years, but on the set date for a court appearance, only Mochoboroane showed up and Metsing failed to appear before court, the move which forced the then presiding judge, Chief Justice Sakoane Sakoane to issue a warrant of arrest for him.

The matter has been stood down to October 25, where Advocate Teele KC will move an application for quashing of the charges for his clients.