By Nat Molomo
MASERU — Two police officers appeared before Magistrate ’Makampong Mokhoro facing charges of kidnapping a 14-year-old Lesotho High School boy two weeks ago. The two men, Tšepo Mohami of police’s Special Operations Unit and Bataung Thulo of police terminals, were not asked to plead when they appeared before court yesterday. They only nodded in agreement when the magistrate asked them if they understood their charges.
The prosecution says the police officers kidnapped Tšepang Bulane “and deprived him of his freedom for four days”. Bulane was kidnapped while walking to school early in the morning on Monday two weeks ago. He was found in Mokhotlong four days later. Police spokesperson Masupha Masupha said the boy was walking to school early in the morning when the men stopped their car and asked for directions to the passport office. He said the men told the boy that they last knew that the passport office was at the Red Cross Building along High Court Road and were not aware that it had moved to a new place.
The boy tried to give them directions to the new passport office but they pretended not to understand, he said. They then invited the boy to get into their car after promising him they would drop him at his school later. “After the boy got into the car the suspects drove towards the north instead of driving towards the west where the passport offices are located,” he said. Advocate Moeketsi Lekobane asked for bail for Mohami while Attorney Qhalehang Letsika applied on behalf of Thulo.
“During investigation of this matter he (Mohami) availed himself to the investigating officer and he is still a serving police officer within the LMPS,” Lekobane submitted. Letsika, defending Thulo, quoted section 12 (2) of the Constitution which states that the accused is presumed innocent till proven otherwise.
“On that basis we pray that accused two (Thulo) be admitted to bail in terms of section 106 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act (CP&E) of 1981,” Letsika said. “He is a Lesotho citizen and holds no passport of any other country other than the passport of the Kingdom of Lesotho,” he submitted. Prosecutor Gcinimuzi Tshabalala said they “view the committed crime in a very serious light particularly because it was committed by police officers”. “Our position is that we are going to oppose this bail application,” Tshabalala said.
“I have lined up five witnesses for prosecution to give evidence in opposition to bail application,” he said. Asked whether the crown witnesses were available the prosecutor said he got the case docket very late and the witnesses were therefore not before court and asked the court’s indulgence for postponement. The case was postponed to tomorrow morning when the court will consider bail application.
The Lesotho Times could not independently find if the crown witnesses included the Lesotho High School students and teachers who had come marching to the court waving placards protesting against bail for the two suspects. When the two men alighted from the police van, chained to each other’s legs, they received loud ridicules from the students who were already waiting for them in the courtyard.