MASERU — Habofanoe Ntsie, the cameraman facing a possible death sentence for double murder, has vanished.
Ntsie disappeared from the court on March 26 before Justice ’Maseforo Mahase had finished reading her judgment on a case in which he is charged for the murder of Habaka Mahao and Souru Masupha in 2004 at Lancer’s Gap in Sehlabeng.
His wife claimed that he had been taken ill during the lunch break but Justice Mahase immediately issued a warrant of arrest.
His lawyer, Haae Phoofolo, told the court that he had received a doctor’s letter stating that Ntsie had been given a two-week sick leave.
The judge then ordered his wife to come to court on March 30 to explain her husband’s whereabouts.
When Ntsie’s wife failed to appear in court Justice Mahase postponed the matter to April 25.
His sick leave expired on April 9.
But when the case was supposed to resume yesterday Ntsie was nowhere to be found.
Justice Mahase did not attend the court as she was said to be sick but she is expected to issue another warrant of arrest for the controversial cameraman after she has been briefed about this failure to attend court.
Phoofolo told the Lesotho Times he had failed to find Ntsie since he disappeared from the court on March 26.
“I, as his representative, have had no luck of finding him and there has been a communication breakdown between us,” Phoofolo said.
“I have never heard anything from him or his wife since that day (March 26). I still haven’t heard anything from Ntsie and I don’t know where he is.”
Phoofolo also said that it was his responsibility and that of the police to make sure that Ntsie is arrested.
However, police spokesperson Masupha Masupha said the police did their part.
“After the warrant of arrest was issued, we had to go and confirm if indeed Ntsie was sick as per his doctor’s letter. We did that and reported to the court that indeed he was sick,” Masupha said.
“In that way our part was done and we can only arrest him if another warrant is issued because the first one fell off after the explanation that we had given to the court,” he said.
“It is now his legal representative’s duty to find him unless we get another warrant.”
If Ntsie had been convicted he would have been immediately sent to prison because murder convicts don’t get bail pending appeal.
He would have waited for the Court of Appeal session in August to hear his appeal against the conviction.
During the trial, Ntsie who claims to be an ‘international journalist’, had argued that he shot Mahao and Masupha in self-defence.
Ntsie is a controversial figure who has had a brush with the law.
In April 2010 he appeared in court to face charges of reckless and negligent driving.
The court heard Ntsie hit a car belonging to National Security Services agent Sekake Mohale and then fled from the accident scene.
Ntsie also claimed to know who killed Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s son, Maile, in 2002. Maile’s murder has never been solved.