MASERU — Minister Mophato Monyake’s disclosure that ritual murderer suspect Lehlohonolo Scott had been arrested with the help of private investigators in South Africa has sparked confusion in the government with police authorities contradicting the minister by claiming that they are still on the hunt for the reviled murderer.
Fuelling more confusion was another statement from Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s office announcing that the Lesotho Mounted Police Service LMPS, working in collaboration with their South African counterparts, were still looking for Scott.
Thabane’s statement followed the LMPS’s statement last week that Scott had not been placed in police custody as law enforcement authorities were still hunting him down.
Monyake, who is the Law and Correctional Services Minister, had last week revealed that he had found Scott through the assistance of a private investigator.
Monyake also claimed that Scott had been cooperating with police and had already implicated prominent local businessmen in the human body parts trade.
He said the investigator would hand over Scott in two weeks time after completion of extradition formalities. Monyake had given media interviews celebrating Scott’s arrest. Heeven appeared on national television announcing the arrest.
But the Minister of Justice and Human Rights Haae Phoofolo told a local weekly newspaper the extradition of Scott into Lesotho was not a guaranteed affair.
He said attempts to extradite the ritual killings suspect to Lesotho would be met with a lot of hurdles.
Phoofolo, who is also a renowned human rights lawyer, said Scott’s return depended on South African courts’ findings on the extradition request.
He said there was need for the Director of Public Prosecutions Leaba Thetsane to release a warrant of arrest to South African courts for Scott to be kept temporarily in custody while negotiations between the two countries continued.
South African courts would only release Scott to Lesotho if government agreed that the ritual murder suspect would not face the death penalty, Phoofolo said.
“An agreement should be reached between our Minister of Law and his south African counterpart on whether Scott should be sent to Lesotho or not,” Phoofolo said.
Monyake had told the Lesotho Times he decided to engage a private investigator after the local authorities failed to apprehend the Koalabata ritual murder suspect even after a M60 000 reward had been put on his head.
Scott, aged 26, has been on the run after escaping from Maseru Central Prison on October 14 last year and is now said to be held at an undisclosed location in South Africa.
Scott escaped from prison after his arrest earlier on July 12 last year after the ritual murders of Moholobela Seetsa and Kamohelo Mohata in January and June last year.
Both Seetsa and Mohata’s bodies were found dismembered, raising suspicions that some parts could have been harvested for rituals purposes.
The sensational ritual murders transfixed Lesotho and Monyake’s announcement of Scott’s arrest last week had raised this nation’s hopes.
The Lesotho Times unsuccessfully tried to reach Monyake this week for a clarification of his claims after the Prime Minister, who is also the Minister of Police, and the LMPS contradicted the Law Minister’s claims of Scott’s arrest. Monyake’s phone rang unanswered most of the time.
If the LMPS’s version is accurate, it remains unclear why Monyake would deliberately mislead the nation on a matter of such public importance.
Thabane’s office insisted yesterday that the police were still on Scott’s trail with the help of their South African counterparts.
“The Lesotho police in collaboration with the South African police are on continued search for Scott and the public would be informed in detail about the hunt once investigations are completed,” said the PM’s spokesman Thabo Thakalekoala.
It seems the confusion can only be cleared if Monyake comes clean and clarifies his remarks about Scott’s arrest.