THE family of fraud-accused, ‘Makarabo Mojakhomo, is disputing police claims that she escaped from lawful custody.
The family has instead petitioned the High Court for an order for the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) to produce her dead or alive, insinuating that she might have been killed in custody.
Ms Mojakhomo was arrested last Tuesday and she was due in court on Thursday in connection with the fraud and theft of at least M200 000 from First Lady Maesaiah Thabane’s Trust Fund. She could not appear in court after the police claimed she had escaped from custody while she was being prepared for court.
But Ms Mojakhomo’s family have come out guns blazing insisting there is no way she could have broken out of tightly guarded police cells. The family has since petitioned the High Court for an order for the police to produce her dead or alive.
The family has cited social media reports that she could have been murdered by the police as one of the reasons for its bid to have her produced before the court.
In a statement to the Sunday Express publication last Friday, Police Spokesperson, Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli, said the “police are looking for Makarabo Mojakhomo from Lecoop, Khubetsoana in Maseru who escaped from police custody on 31 May 2018 at a time when we were preparing to take her to court for her hearing.
“Mojakhomo is alleged to have stolen money amounting to M125 000 which was meant to pay for a building rented by the First Lady ‘Maesaiah Thabane’s Trust Fund.
“She also took property worth M17 000 from the office of the trust fund. Mojakhomo took M65 000 from Decorat Art Furniture Manufacturers after misrepresenting to them that the money would be used to prepare for a birthday party for Ms Thabane at Avani Lesotho.
“The police are requesting anyone with information about Mojakhomo’s whereabouts to call the Police Headquarters on the following numbers, +26622317262 or +26622322099,” Supt Mopeli said.
However, Ms Mojakhomo’s family is disputing this statement as a ruse and is now demanding that she be produced dead or live via the High Court application known as a Habeas Corpusapplication.
The police’s investigations department, the Police Commissioner, the Deputy Police Commissioner, the Minister of Police, Police Officer Tshabalala, Police Officer Lethoko, Police Officer Mohoang, Police Officer Mongali and the Attorney General are cited as first to eighth respondents respectively.
The family states in its court papers that “the respondents have kept ‘Makarabo Mojakhomo in unlawful continuous detention without presenting her before a court of law if there are any charges they want to prefer against her.
“The respondents do not allow the family of ‘Makarabo Mojakhomo and her lawyers to consult with her while she is detention.
“There is serious and rife speculation over social media that ‘Makarabo Mojakhomo, contrary to the police explanation that she disappeared from detention, was murdered by the police while in the interrogation rooms.
“The matter should be dealt with on an urgent basis in the circumstances as the applicants have no alternative to access ‘Makarabo Mojakhomo,” the court papers state.
The family’s case was presented by lawyer, Advocate Letuka Molati, who told High Court judge Justice Semapo Peete this week that Ms Mojakhomo was arrested last Tuesday and her relatives visited her the next day, Wednesday.
Adv Molati said the relatives again visited her the following day, Thursday. This time they were not able to see her and the police told them that she had escaped from police custody.
Adv Molati further told the court that the police went on to arrest Ms Mojakhomo’s husband, Thabang, and it was not clear what charges he was facing. But it has since emerged that the husband is also being charged with defrauding M65 000 from the same foundation even though he was not employed there (see story below).
Advocate Molati said as a result of all these developments, Ms Mojakhomo’s father-in-law, Tello Mojakhomo and her (Ms Mojakhomo’s) sister, ‘Malesole Letsie had decided to file an urgent High Court application for an order for the police to produce Ms Mojakhomo dead or alive.
Justice Peete ordered the police to respond to the application by Wednesday next week.
“The respondents should file their answering papers on or before the 13th of June 2018. The applicants should file their replying affidavits on or before the 15th of June 2018. The matter is accordingly postponed to the 15th June 2018 at 11am,” Justice Peete ordered.
The judge also urged the lawyers representing the police to prepare witnesses to enable the court to make a thorough inquiry as to what happened to Ms Mojakhomo.
“… The police officers who are going to testify must also make affidavits,” Justice Peete further said.
He said the affidavits would enable the court to compare their oral and written evidence.