By Nat Molomo
MASERU — A 28-year-old Mafeteng man, Lepolesa Khots’eng, appeared in the High Court yesterday to answer three murder charges and one of attempted murder.
Khots’eng, who has pleaded not guilty, is also facing two other charges of arson and unlawful possession of a firearm.
Khots’eng is charged with killing ‘Makhahliso Matlali, Morongoe Matlali and Karabo Matlali on May 5, 2011.
He is also charged with attempting to kill Ntsekiseng Matlali on the same day.
A witness, Ntsekiseng Matlali, 18, told High Court judge Justice ‘Maseshophe Hlajoane how Khots’eng burst into their house on the night of May 5, two years ago and began shooting indiscriminately.
She told the court that she covered her face with a blanket as her mother, Morongoe Matlali, screamed for help.
Ntsekiseng said on the ill-fated night, her mother was undressing preparing to sleep while her sister’s child, Karabo, was sitting down on the bed when they heard a violent knock on the door.
“We then heard the second bang and after that the door was forced open. Then Lepolesa Khots’eng, who I knew, and was wearing a black leather jacket, entered,” she said.
She said she clearly identified the accused because the lamp was still on.
“He was holding a small firearm in his hand and never uttered a word,” Ntsekiseng said.
“On entering he fired shots and I never had an opportunity to see to whom the shots were directed,” she said.
She said she could not recall the number of times Khots’eng fired.
“I covered my face with blankets as my mother called Khaoane (a neighbour) to help saying there was a person killing us in the house,” she said.
“My mother fell silent. I thought Khots’eng had left and peeped only to see him waiting in the doorway,” she said.
“He began shooting again saying, ‘if you are still shaking and alive, I will finish you off’”, she said.
It was at that point that Khots’eng lit a match and set the house on fire, she said.
Ntsekiseng said when she tried to flee Khots’eng threatened to kill her saying he would finish her off.
“I did not move because by that time the house was on fire and there was a lot of smoke in the house and the accused left,” Ntsekiseng said.
She said she then fled to her uncle’s house.
But when she got there she found the house locked. She broke the window and saw some smoke coming out.
“I stood on the forecourt puzzled,” she said.
She said she then ran to a neighbour’s house and called the police.
Advocate Ts’oeunyane, assisted by Adv M Tlali, is prosecuting while the accused is being represented by Advocate Thulo Hoeane.
The trial continues.