By Nat Molomo
MASERU — Two police officers who are facing charges of kidnapping a schoolboy last month will remain in custody until next week after Senior Resident Magistrate ’Makampong Mokhoro said she needed time to study arguments for their bail applications.
Constables Tšepo Mohami, a member of the police’s Special Operations Unit and Bataung Thulo, of the terminal benefits division will know on Monday whether their bail applications would be granted or not.
Mokhoro told their counsel, Advocate Moeketsi Lekobane for Mohami and Attorney Qhalehang Letsika for Thulo that she needed time to ponder arguments raised in court on Tuesday.
The two men have been in police custody since their arrest three weeks ago.
The police officers are alleged to have kidnapped Tšepang Bulane, a 14-year-old Lesotho High School student while walking to school early in the morning three weeks ago.
He was found in Mokhotlong four days later.
The case took a bizarre twist last week after the court heard that Thulo was in a romantic relationship with the boy’s mother who is also a policewoman.
The boy was kidnapped after the affair went sour, the court heard.
Opposing their bail application, the boy’s mother ’Matsepang Bulane said Thulo once threatened to shoot her together with the Commissioner of Police.
She said she was in an abusive relationship with Thulo and she feared that if he was released he was going to attack her and her son.
The two men have not yet pleaded to the charge of kidnapping.
In an attempt to persuade the court to release the men
on bail, the defence lawyers quoted section 12 (4) of the constitution which says individuals should be presumed innocent till proven guilty.
Advocate Lekobane, defending Mohami, said subsection six of section 12 of the constitution states that accused should be admitted to bail pending trial unless it is proved to the court that their release would be detrimental to justice.
Lekobane argued that there is no evidence that his client will interfere with crown witnesses.
He said the crown must provide evidence to support their submissions that witnesses will be interfered with.
“Evidence of the crown against accused one (Mohami) is only an imaginary opinion. There is no evidence to support what they say, except to say that he will interfere with the crown witnesses,” Lekobane said.
He said it had never been submitted that Mohami interfered with crown witnesses.
He pointed out that other factors which must be considered are the balance of the interest of justice together with the liberty of the accused persons.
Attorney Letsika for Thulo, reacting to some of the submissions by the crown that if the accused are released on bail they might interfere with the evidence and witnesses, protested that it would be unfair if the accused are kept in jail while the crown investigates its case.
“The accused have not been told who the crown witnesses are. We submit that they be admitted on bail,” Letsika submitted.
He said the accused are likely to suffer immense prejudice if they are kept in custody pending trial.
He further argued that the crown is not even sure when the investigations will be complete and when the case will start.
He rebutted claims that Thulo would interfere with crown witnesses especially the schoolboy or his mother.
“There is no evidence before this court that the witnesses will be intimidated, the issue came from ‘Me’ ’Matšepang, the mother of the child,” he said.
“The accused never talked to her or about their love relations.”
Letsika said the issue is whether Thulo is aware of the nature of evidence and the identity of witnesses.
“We submit that accused (Thulo) is not aware of the crown witnesses, even if he was aware, he would not interfere with them,” the lawyer argued.
He reiterated that section 12 of the Constitution of Lesotho says an accused is presumed innocent till proven guilty.
Prosecution has called witnesses who testified why the accused should not be given bail