By Sello Morake
MASERU — Trooper Mothobi Moholi’s 17-year career as a police officer came to a screeching halt on Monday.
Moholi was in court to answer a charge of murder after he shot and killed a 19-year-old man, Thabiso Shao, on July 1 1995.
Moholi had argued during trial that he shot Shao, who was wanted in connection with a case of suspected robbery, in self-defence.
But acting High Court Judge Teboho Moiloa rubbished the claim saying Moholi had ‘concocted’ the story about self-defence to save his skin.
“The accused must have foreseen that he could have caused serious wounds or killed the deceased.
“(The) accused proceeded to shoot the deceased who was running away from the police.
“I find the accused guilty of murder as charged,” Justice Moiloa said when delivering his judgment on Monday.
Shao was gunned down during an investigation by Troopers Ts’eliso Hlaele, Puseletso Mpasi and Moholi.
Justice Moiloa said the deceased had not shown any aggression when police officers found him drinking with friends at Crocodile Inn in Butha-Buthe.
Shao was in the company of friends, Motsamai Tlali and Mamphane, when the police stormed the inn.
“It will be seen that the deceased had not shown any aggression to the accused and the police.
“Uncontested post-mortem report from Dr Samuel Limo said the deceased bled from the left lung which was caused by an open shoulder.
“Dr Limo said the wound was caused by a fracture on the fifth rib on the lower lobe as he was shot at close range.
“Post-mortem report by Dr Limo was admitted at preparatory examination. The other evidence comes from the accused but (was a) different version of how it happened,” Justice Moiloa said.
The judge said claims by Moholi that he shot Shao in self-defence after the deceased tried to stab him with a Rambo knife were not credible.
Justice Moiloa said there was no blood on the knife as mentioned by Moholi and he had also failed to show any wound that he sustained in his fight with Shao.
“He said he did it in self-defence and had done it to save his life as a last resort after exhausting all avenues.
“This self defence story collapsed on cross-examination because it was far removed (from reality),” Justice Moiloa said.
The judge said Moholi’s story could not be sustained under scrutiny.
“Evidence from Hlaele is at variance with that from Tlali, Hlaele and Mpasi,” he said.
“The court observed the demeanor of Tlali and is satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that he was truthful in saying the deceased was shot.
“I’m not in doubt the accused shot the deceased while they were fleeing the police on that night,” he said.
The judge also lashed out at Moholi saying he had failed to give a rational response to issues put to him during the trial.
“The accused did not give a rational response (of what really happened). In the end, the accused said he did not know how the deceased was shot.
“It is not satisfactory to say the accused shot the deceased in self-defence. The court does not believe the accused’s story,” he said.
The judge said the accused had in fact concocted the story about the self-defence.
“The story of the rambo knife and the wound that accused had was, with all with due respect, concocted by the accused,” he said.
“Mokhele said the accused never reported to him that deceased wounded him.
“Accused did not act in self-defence on that night when he shot the deceased.
“Accused never had a genuine belief that his life was in danger,” he said.
The crown counsel was represented by Sefako Seema while the accused was represented by Advocate Mosouenyane Masiphole.
Justice Moiloa will deliver sentence next week.