Billy back in court

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MASERU –The state said he was guilty of sedition.

He said he was innocent.

The High Court acquitted him but the state would have none of it.

They upped the tempo by appealing to the Appeals’ Court which ordered his retrial.

This week he was back to square one–in the dock at the High Court.

All Basotho Convention (ABC) general secretary, Macaefa Billy, has done a full circle at the courts as he battles to fend off the serious charge of sedition.

A home-run of some sorts.

Sedition carries a sentence of two years.

Clad in a yellow long-sleeved shirt Billy sat calmly in the dock during the proceedings.

It’s been two years since he first appeared in court but some things are still the same.

He is still facing the same judge, Justice Thamsanqa Nomngcongo.

The prosecutor, his nemesis, is still the same Advocate Roland Ruhr.

But other things have changed dramatically though.

The ABC mob that used to accompany him to the previous court appearings has visibly reduced.

In the past they used to fill courtroom but on Tuesday only 30 attended the hearing.

The sea of yellow (ABC’s colours) that used to dominate the gallery was nowhere to be seen.

It didn’t look like a high profile trial of the secretary of the ABC, Lesotho’s biggest opposition party.

Billy was first dragged to court after he allegedly called for the ousting of Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili at a rally organised by the ABC in April 2007.

The crown alleged that Billy delivered a seditious speech at Ha-Moits’upeli in Makhaleng constituency on April 8 2007.

The crown says Billy uttered words that were meant to incite violence, disorder and disobedience against the government.

The crown also says the words were meant to incite people to rise and topple Mosisili.

On Tuesday, Billy denied that he intended to topple Mosisili by force and incite people to rise against the government.

“The purpose of the rally was to win over voters to vote for the ABC which is in alliance with the Lesotho Workers Party,” said Billy, who is also leader of the workers’ party.

He said the rally was called to garner support for the party’s candidate for the Makhaleng constituency.

Billy said his speech was meant to inform supporters that there were proper legal channels to be followed to protest as there was dissatisfaction with results of the February elections.

Told that he was charged with uttering words intended to subvert the government or cause violence, disorder and disobedience to lawful authority, Billy categorically denied the charge.

“The main theme of my address was to ensure that we won that election and we had to pinpoint the weaknesses of our opponents and show the vision our party through its manifesto,” Billy told the court.

Billy is being represented by Advocate Haae Phoofolo.

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