Double ritual murder suspect Lehlohonolo Scott yesterday sent a chilly warning to police officers who continue to “harass” him in prison.
The 30-year-old told Chief Magistrate ‘Matankiso Nthunya he would not tolerate his unrelenting interrogation by detectives and threatened to “do something shocking” if the investigators do not stop visiting him for interviews as he awaits trial in Maseru Central Prison.
Scott has been charged with the murder of Moholobela Seetsa (13) and Kamohelo Mohata (22) in January and June 2012 respectively. He was arrested on 12 July 2012 alongside his mother ’Malehlohonolo, but escaped from Maseru Central Prison on 14 October 2012 and fled to South Africa.
His life on the run, however, ended on 6 April 2014 when he was arrested in Durban, and extradited to Lesotho on 21 October this year. Scott appeared before the High Court the same day he was brought back home under heavy guard, with presiding judge, Justice Teboho Joseph Moiloa, remanding him in custody until 23 November.
But on 4 October, Scott was brought before the Maseru Magistrate’s Court and charged with escaping from lawful custody. His case was remanded to 18 November, hence his appearance before Chief Magistrate Nthunya yesterday.
However, Scott took the court by surprise when he demanded the police interrogation to stop, saying he was “tired” of being interrogated about his prison-break and also being forced to implicate certain politicians in the escape.
“If the police continue to ill-treat me, I will do something that will shock people,” Scott told Chief Magistrate Nthunya.
“While I was in prison in South Africa, detectives from Lesotho visited me to ask about my escape. After the visit, I went through extradition and the police officers were still there, asking me the same questions.
“I am tired of this harassment, and I am ready to face my charges and give evidence in court.
“I was surprised to see the detectives when I was taken into custody back here. They tried to interview me again but I dismissed them.
“It is true that I told them that I wanted to see my lawyer first before I could talk to them.
“Detective Khatleli then said I should not disappoint them after meeting with my lawyer and Officer Baholo said they would come back again for further investigations.
“They told me they had names they wanted me to confirm; names of politicians they wanted me to accuse of helping me escape. But when they came back again, I told them that I didn’t know anything about the people they were telling me about. I also told them I never said I would think about their proposal to confirm the names, but only that I needed to consult my lawyer.
“I simply told them I was not interested. And I made it clear to them that I was not going to say anything about my escape.
“But after I told them about my decision, they started ill-treating me. At one point, they told me to take off my clothes which I did, and I didn’t know what they were looking for.”
Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Leaba Thetsane, who was before the court yesterday, said there was nothing special about Scott’s case and that it should be treated just like any other trial.
“As much as people are interested in Scott’s case, it is just like any other trial and it has to follow normal court procedures,” Advocate Thetsane told the court.
“It is a fact that sometime in 2012, the accused appeared before this court charged with murder and this court committed him to the High Court. Unfortunately, the accused escaped from Correctional Services.
“I know the police are interested to know how the accused escaped but then, I advised them not to take him into their custody.
“I advised the police to seek permission from the Commissioner of Prisons whenever they want to interview the accused. I also advised my clients (police) that they should act as if they are in the Charge Office.
“The accused then asked for permission from investigators to consult his lawyer and I told them they should give him the opportunity to do so.
“On 25 October, the accused told the officers that his lawyer had instructed him not to say anything. This was the second time he had said this.
“I told my clients that they shouldn’t persist. My clients then decided to charge him with escaping from prison.
“The accused then appeared in Court on 4 November; that is when the allegations (of the police harassing Scott) started.
“In fact, the accused was supposed to be before the High Court, and not in this court.”
Advocate Thetsane further told the court that if Scott’s lawyer had any complaints against the investigators, he should have approached the courts instead of going to the media. The lawyer, Advocate Thulo Hoeane, was not in court yesterday and went public about the police interrogations early this month.
“The allegations are that my clients want the accused to implicate top politicians who helped him escape from prison. But the lawyer should have approached the court regarding his complaint and not the media,” the DPP said.
In response, Scott said he was to blame for the allegations.
“I want to make it clear to the DPP and this court that I was responsible for the allegations. I am not protecting my lawyer but I am talking about my concerns,” he said.
After submissions by Scott and the DPP, Magistrate Nthunya said everyone was equal before the law.
“All people, whether politicians, the rich, poor and whatever nationality; everyone is equal before the law.
“The court of law is established to administer justice without fear, favour or prejudice,” she said.
Meanwhile, the case continues on 2 December 2015.