MAGISTRATE ‘Mamorojele Qoo yesterday ordered five army officers facing an attempted murder charge stemming from the 2016 near-fatal shooting of the Lesotho Times editor, Lloyd Mutungamiri, to appear again before court next Wednesday on remand.
The order was made after the District Public Prosecutor, Qcinumuzi Tshabalala, told the court that the lawyers representing the five accused soldiers had applied to argue their case before the court.
Brigadier Rapele Mphaki (47), Khutlang Mochesane (57), Mahanyane Phasumane (37), Nyatso Tšoeunyane (41) and Maribe Nathane (35) allegedly shot Mr Mutungamiri at his home, Upper Thamae, in the late hours of 9 July 2016 after he had arrived home from work.
They first appeared before the Magistrate’s Court in December 2017 but their lawyers now want to argue the case for their release from detention at the Maseru Maximum Security Prison
Their lawyers want the magistrate to release them in terms of the Speedy Trial Act which stipulates that a person should not be kept in custody more than 60 days without their case being prosecuted.
The new date was set after Mr Tshabalala asked the court to remand them saying “their lawyers are intending to move a certain application.”
Meanwhile, other army officers facing three counts of murder and dumping the bodies of their victims in Mohale Dam were yesterday told to stop attending remands before the Magistrates’ Court as their case had been transferred to the High Court for trial.
The army officers are Sergeant Lekhooa Moepi (43), Captain Mahlehle Moeletsi (50), Lance Corporal Mahlomola Makhoali (32), Private Nthatakane Motanyane (24), Brigadier Rapele Mphaki (47), Motšoane Machai (39), Liphapang Sefako (48) and Nemase Faso (28).
The eight allegedly strangled Lekhoele Noko, Molise Pakela and Khothatso Makibinyane at Setibing in the rural Maseru on 16 May 2017 and dumped their bodies in the Mohale Dam.
The three men that were allegedly killed by the army officers had been arrested in connection with the killing of an army officer and a street vendor at Maseru Border Post in May last year.
The three men were released by police after investigations revealed that they were not linked to the incident.
However, the LDF members decided to take the law into their own hands and allegedly kidnapped them before strangling them.