By Billy Ntaote
MASERU — Habofanoe Ntsie, the fugitive cameraman who faces a possible death sentence over double murder charges, will appear in a South African court to face extradition proceedings early next month.
Ntsie was on March 26, 2012 involved in a dramatic lunch-time escape from the High Court before Justice Maseforo Mahase had finished reading her judgment in a case in which he is charged with the murder of Habaka Mahao and Souru Masupha in 2004 at Lancer’s Gap in Sehlabeng.
Justice Mahase was forced to discontinue reading her judgment after it was established that Ntsie had disappeared. He was later convicted in absentia of the two murders.
Ntsie was reportedly arrested on March 1 2013, almost a year after his disappearance from the High Court, while attempting to buy a car in Vereeniging near Johannesburg.
He was later released on M10 000 bail by the Vereeniging Magistrate Court and has since been waiting for extradition proceedings to begin.
Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) spokesperson, Senior Inspector Lebona Mohloboli, told the Lesotho Times this week that a police team from the LMPS would be attending Ntsie’s extradition proceedings in Vereeniging on February 4 and 5.
“What we are waiting for now is for him to be brought back home. We have shown as a country that we want him back since he was convicted,” Mohloboli said.
He said expressed confidence that Ntsie would be extradited back to Lesotho as the country has an extradition treaty with South Africa. However, judicial precedence in South Africa has shown South African courts to be very cautious when dealing with cases in which accused persons may be executed if extradited back to their countries.
In some instances, the courts have demanded guarantees that convicts would not be executed if extradited to countries which still maintain the death penalty like Lesotho.
Superintendent Sello Mosili, the chief investigator in Ntsie’s double murder case, will be part of the delegation expected to attend the extradition hearing.
The High Court found Ntsie guilty of the double murder in a judgment subsequently delivered in his absence on August 9, 2012.
Justice Mahase said the Constitution of Lesotho provided that the court might convict an accused in absentia and that the absence of an accused person does not bar the court from exercising its powers with regard to a trial.
The sentence, however, is yet to be disclosed to the public.
In his defence Ntsie had said the now-deceased were armed with AK47 assault rifles and were bent on killing him.
But Ntsie’s defence was shot down by Justice Mahase who accused Ntsie of fabricating his evidence.
Mahase said Ntsie’s accusations against the police and the now-deceased were unfounded. She said there was no reasonable evidence submitted by the defense that the accused was, indeed, attacked with big guns, as he had claimed.