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One of the accused in a case in which ten members of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) are charged with multiple offences including murder, Pitso Ramoepane has on Thursday abondoned an application in which he was challenging his inclusion in the charges relating to this case.

The accused was insisting that he has been wrongly indicted as the charges were never read to him in preparation of the trial adding that the court did not therefore have jurisdiction to try him.

A investigation into whether the charges were read or not read to the accused was conducted by the court through calling of Assistant Registrar of the High Court Advocate Stafford Sharite and the accused into a witness box. Although it was suggested that there was no record showing what had happened, towards the end of the investigation a court document dated March 26 2018, with a handwriting which was concluded to be that of the late Judge Maseshophe Hlajoane, was found and it stated that the charges were read to the accused on that day.

In his evidence under oath the accused had stated that on that day when he appeared before the High Court together with his co-accused in the matter, the charges were not read in court. He had pointed out that he was expecting for the charges to be read and he be advised of his rights to legal representation and bail as it happened before the Magistrate Court when he was remanded in relation to other cases, but that never happened.

He had indicated that they were only given the next appearance date and told that the judges who were going to hear their cases, who were from outside the country, had not yet arrived. He had emphasised that the only time the charges were read to him was when the case was proceeding before former judge of the High Court Justice Onkemetse Tshosa and yesterday before Judge Moroke Mokhesi.

The accused had told the court that during his interview with the office of the Registrar of the High Court which was represented by Adv. Sharite, in preparation of this case, he told him that he was wrongly called because he had never been remanded in it.

Also in his evidence under oath, Adv. Sharite had stated that the accused's first appearance before the High Court in relation to the matter was before the late Justice Hlajoane. He had indicated that the judge ordered that the charges be read to the accused. He had said as he was on that day standing in for Judge Hlajoane's Clerk, he read the charges to the accused adding that all of them were before court. He had pointed out that the proceedings of that day were however not recorded.

He had told the court that the accused had raised the complaint with him that he was wrongly indicted adding that he informed the judge about thee accused's complaint.

It had been suggested to him by the accused's lawyer Adv. Karabo Mohau (KC) that he lied about the judge because she was not there to answer for herself. Adv. Mohau had emphasised that the fact that the case is criminal and reading of charges to the accused in a criminal case is crucial in the criminal proceedings as well as the fact that the accused had raised the complaint, the judge would ensure that the proceedings were recorded.

Following availability of the court record and consultation between the accused and his lawyer, the investigations were abandoned and subsequently the accused's plea which was that the court did not have the jurisdiction to try him, changed into, not guilty.

According to the charge sheet, all the accused allegedly acted in concert and in furtherance of a common purpose, and strangled Lekhoele Noko, Khothatso Makibinyane and Molise Pakela to death during incidents that happened at Setibing in Maseru on May 16, 2017. They allegedly dumped the deceased's bodies in the Mohale Dam afterwards.

The charges they are facing include conspiracy to murder, unlawful detention and issuing superior orders to unlawful detention as well as to kill.

The case continues before Judge Moroke Mokhesi.


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  • Candra Tarczynski
    2023-02-05 16:53

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