Khetheng murder suspects remanded in custody

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’Marafaele Mohloboli

FOUR Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) members charged with the murder of Police Constable (PC) Mokalekale Khetheng have been remanded in custody after briefly appearing before the Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday.

A LMPS member of the rank of senior assistant commissioner was also arrested on Monday in connection with the case, before being released the next day.

However, Police spokesperson Inspector Mpiti Mopeli has said the released officer might be called back “if need be”, as investigations into the case continue.

Senior Superintendent Thabo Tšukulu (51) of ’Malere Matelile Ha Qaba in the Mafeteng district, Senior Inspector Mabitle Matona (39) of Butha-Buthe, Ha Nqabeni, Sub Inspector Haleokoe Taasoane (44) of of Liphofung Mokhotlong and Inspector Mothibeli Mofolo (49) were charged for contravening Section  40 (1) of the Penal Code No. 6 of 2010.

According to the charge sheet, the four performed “an unlawful act or omission with the intention of causing the death” of PC Khetheng on 26 March 2016 in Ha Mokhalinyane, Maseru district.

PC Khetheng was stationed in Mokhotlong and last seen being arrested by his colleagues at a traditional feast in Sebothoane, Leribe on 25 March 2016 and had not been seen or heard from since.

This had prompted his father, Thabo Khetheng, to lodge an application before the High Court on 18 July 2016 for the police authorities to produce him dead or alive.

PC Khetheng had been arrested and charged on allegations he torched the house of his superior in Mokhotlong district where he was deployed.

He was allegedly last seen with Inspector Mofolo, PC Ntoane, PC ‘Mabohlokoa Makotoko and Senior Inspector Matona.

The LMPS had argued that PC Khetheng had left the Hlotse police station without permission and they did not know where he was. For its part, the Khetheng family argued that the police should know where he was because they arrested him.

The case had been proceeding in the High Court, with numerous postponements, until Wednesday last week when a special police investigating team arrested Inspector Mofolo and PC Ntoana in connection with the disappearance. The other two were later arrested in connection with the case.

The investigation led to the exhumation of a man the family believes to be PC Khetheng on Friday after the police were granted a court order by the Magistrate’s Court on Thursday in light of ongoing investigations.

Police will conduct a DNA test to verify the identity of the body which had been buried at the Lepereng cemetery in the outskirts of Maseru. The graveyard is used to bury unclaimed corpses.

According to information found on the tombstone, the body was found in Ha Setho, two days after PC Khetheng’s arrest in Leribe.

The unidentified body was transported by Ha Mokhalinyane police to Ha ‘Majane before being transferred to a Lesotho Funeral Service mortuary in Maseru.

The body was buried on 7 December 2016 at the Lepereng cemetery together with other unidentified corpses.

The suspects appeared before Chief Magistrate ’Matankiso Nthunya and will appear for another remand hearing on 17 August 2017.

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