FORMER Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) commander Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli’s hopes of freedom have been dashed after the High Court denied him bail this week.
Judge Teboho Moiloa ruled that Lt-Gen Kamoli had failed to substantiate his claim that he was suffering from influenza which required him to be in close proximity to his doctors. In any event, suffering from influenza did not amount to exceptional circumstances that warrant the release on bail of a suspect facing serious charges.
Lt-Gen Kamoli, was arraigned in the Magistrate’s Court on 16 October 2017, charged with one count of murder and 14 counts of attempted murder.
The murder charge is for the fatal shooting of police Sub-Inspector Mokheseng Ramahloko during the 30 August 2014 attempted coup against the first government of Prime Minister Thomas Thabane.
A number of soldiers, under Lt-Gen Kamoli’s command, had stormed various police stations and seized arms they claimed were to be used against civilians at a Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) rally that same weekend. However, Dr Thabane’s government charged that Lt-Gen Kamoli launched his coup attempt in reaction to his dismissal by the Prime Minister a day earlier.
Three other army officers namely, Captain Litekanyo Nyakane (38), Lance Corporal Motloheloa Ntsane (34) and Lance Corporal Leutsoa Motsieloa (31) are charged with Lt-Gen Kamoli in the murder of Sub-Inspector Ramahloko. The three are in detention with Lt-Gen Kamoli at the Maseru Maximum Prison.
The 14 attempted murder charges stem from the 27 January 2014 simultaneous bombings of the Moshoeshoe II homes of First Lady Maesiah Thabane, one ‘Mamoshoeshoe Moletsane, and the Ha Abia residence of former police commissioner Khothatso Tšooana.
The former army commander originally applied for bail on 20 October this year and on 23 October, the prosecution subsequently filed its intention to oppose his application.
Lt -Gen Kamoli’s hopes of freedom were however shattered on Tuesday when Justice Moiloa ruled that his submission that he suffers from influenza had failed to demonstrate to the court that there were exceptional circumstances that warranted his release on bail as required by law.
It had appeared that the court would grant Lt Gen Kamoli’s application when the judge began his remarks by stating that there were flaws in the prosecution’s opposition to the former army commander’s bail application.
Among other issues, Justice Moiloa said, the prosecution had not disputed Lt-Gen Kamoli’s evidence that he had cooperated with the police. The former army boss had complied with the police’s telephone request that he report to the police headquarters in Maseru even when he was aware of the likelihood that he would face serious criminal charges.
“I am satisfied that the petitioner was told that there was a likelihood that arising from the interview (with the police) he would face serious charges that would necessitate his detention,” Justice Moiloa said.
“I am also satisfied that they (Lt-Gen Kamoli and police) agreed that he should not report himself on the 9th October, but on the 11th October and he lived up to his promise.
“These facts serve in favour of the petitioner that he is not a flight risk.”
However, Justice Moiloa explained that the law required much more for bail to be granted to suspects facing serious charges.
“The petitioner should satisfy the court that exceptional circumstances exist that warrant his release on bail.
“In the instant case the petitioner says he has an influenza condition that requires a quick response by doctors. But he did not attach any medical report or a medical book to support his allegation.
“I am not satisfied that the petitioner discharged onus to prove his exceptional circumstances in this regard.
“I also bear in mind that the petitioner has not been indicted to the High Court and also that the trial date has not yet been set.
“I decline to grant the petitioner bail on the reasons I stated above. Bail is declined,” Justice Moiloa ruled.
After the judge’s ruling, the former commander, clad in his light brown leather jacket, remained calm.
His lawyer, Advocate Letuka Molati, approached him and whispered some inaudible comments into his ear, before prison authorities and some soldiers approached, handcuffed and whisked Lt-Gen Kamoli down the court room’s stairway.
The packed audience attending the bail hearing included members of the SADC Oversight Committee which is monitoring the implementation of SADC decisions regarding the political and security situation in Lesotho.
The committee is also tasked with providing assistance in the implementation of constitutional, security and public sector reforms in Lesotho.