MASERU — The wife of television cameraman Habofanoe Ntsie told the High Court yesterday that the police never bothered to interview her despite having witnessed the killing of her two neighbours.
Ntsie is standing trial for killing his neighbours Souru Masupha and Habaka Mahao at Lancer’s Gap in Berea in 2004.
Ntsie’s wife, ’Mamoitšepi Tholoana Ntsie, who witnessed the killings, was testifying in court on the events surrounding the killings.
’Mamoitšepi, who was led in evidence by the defence counsel Haae Phoofolo, said she accompanied her husband to Mabote police station immediately after the shootings but the police kept her outside the charge office instead of taking her statement.
She said three policemen invited Ntsie to an inner office at the police station but told her to wait in Ntsie’s car that was parked outside.
“No police officer ever took a statement from me,” ’Mamoitšepi told Justice ’Maseforo Mahase, sitting with two assessors.
“Up until today I have never been interviewed by the police in connection with the incident,” she said.
’Mamoitepi said she was sure the police knew that she was present when the shootings happened.
Taking the court through what happened on November 30, 2004 at Lancer’s Gap, ’Mamoitšepi denied that Ntsie was the one who started shooting at the two men.
She said Ntsie was taking her for shopping in Maseru when they met Masupha and Mahao driving towards them on the wrong lane.
The court heard that Ntsie managed to stop the car just in time to avoid a head-on collision and when Masupha and Mahao’s car passed Ntsie remarked that it was “those boys”.
“Ntate Ntsie turned the car to the other side of the road and parked it facing backward,” ’Mamoits’epi said.
“I was complaining that he would crash it into the nearby dam and he was patting me convincingly telling me that he was sober and couldn’t cause an accident when I heard gunshots,” she said.
“At that, he ordered me to hide under the car seats and he pushed me backward where I lied flat under the seats,” she said.
“The gunshots were continuous.”
’Mamoitšepi said Ntsie got out of the car and she heard two more gunshots after he alighted.
Then after a short while Ntsie got back into the car and they drove towards Maseru and went to Mabote police station.
On the way they met a police van and Ntsie signalled it to stop.
Ntsie told the driver that there were guns at Lancer’s Gap and he should go there to take them.
The policeman who was driving the van allegedly said: “Is it Souru? Go and finish him off.”
From there they headed to the police station.
’Mamoitšepi nearly failed to testify on behalf of her husband after the crown counsel Abram Lenono objected to her giving evidence on Monday.
’Mamoitšepi was already in the witness box and had just taken an oath when Lenono objected to her testifying.
Lenono argued that being Ntsie’s wife, there had to be a formal application for ’Mamoits’epi to testify in support of her husband.
“She has not been brought in in terms of the law of procedure,” Lenono argued.
“The accused person has made no application before this court for his wife to be admitted to testify,” he said.
Phoofolo argued that the law of criminal procedure and evidence was not clear as to what kind of application should be written and to whom it should be addressed.
“Perhaps my learned friend, the crown counsel, should enlighten us as to what we should do,” Phoofolo said.
Lenono responded: “Our duty as the crown is not to advise the accused person but to prosecute him.”
The court had to adjourn for three hours to give the defence team a chance to write the required application.
When the court reconvened Phoofolo informed the court that Ntsie’s wife had gone to consult his lawyer after she was served with the application.
He introduced a new defence witness, Ntene Machobane, who testified that he saw a man who took two assault rifles from the car Masupha and Mahao were travelling in.
Machobane’s evidence corroborated with Ntsie’s in that there were people who went to the murder scene before the police arrived and took the guns away.
Lenono had earlier asked Ntsie why the police who attended the scene did not find any guns which Ntsie said the deceased had used to attack him.
Machobane said a man who was travelling in a green City Golf took a rifle which had a wooden stump and another black one from the maroon City Golf which Masupha and Mahao were in.
He said he did not know Masupha and Mahao but he saw the two bodies slumped in their seats in the maroon City Golf.
He said he did not see whether they were dead or not.
Machobane said he was aboard a taxi when passengers requested the driver to slow down so that they could see what had happened.
“I could see that the people in the maroon City Golf had their heads bent,” Machobane said.
He said Ntsie’s green Caravelle had sped past their taxi near Boitumelo Shopping Centre in Ha-Ts’osane a few minutes earlier.
The case continues.