MASERU — ’Malehlohonolo Scott is out of prison but she remains in a jail of sorts.
Following her release on a M500 bail on Tuesday ’Malehlohonolo was whisked to a safe place by relatives.
Her whereabouts cannot be revealed for security reasons.
It is doubtful that she will freely walk the streets given the public interest and anger her case has created.
The judge said for security reasons she could not go back to her home in Koalabata.
But even if she had wanted to go home that would not have been possible because her house was destroyed by an angry mob following her arrest in June last year.
Arrested together with her son Lehlohonolo Scott for allegedly murdering two people, ’Malehlohonolo has been in prison since June last year.
The state alleges that the murders were for ritual purposes. Scott is now at large following his bizarre escape from Maseru Central Prison last October.
His mother has wallowed in prison for 15 months as the crown continually postponed the trial with claims that it was not yet prepared.
During that time she has been kept in shackles even when she is sleeping.
Her lawyer, Thulo Hoeane, said apart from being kept in chains ’Malehlohonolo also had to endure verbal abuse from prison guards and fellow prisoners.
He said even after bail was granted ’Malehlohonolo had to spend six more hours behind bars because the prison authorities doubted the order.
And for six hours the prison authorities scrutinised the order and made calls to the High Court to verify that it was real.
“We got there (prison) at around 11am and left around 5:30pm,” Hoeane said yesterday, adding that “this kind of treatment is unprecedented”.
Hoeane said although ’Malehlohonolo is happy that she is finally out of prison she is “extremely traumatised”.
“Justice has been denied in this case,” he said.
He believes ’Malehlohonolo is a victim of a justice system that has become “dysfunctional”.
The delay in bringing ’Malehlohonolo to trial, he says, is a result of a system that no longer works and respects the rights of individuals.
Of particular concern to him is that it is the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) that has been saying it is not yet prepared for trial.
Yet it is the one that brought the case to court on an urgent basis.
The plan, Hoeane explained, was to fast-track the case but something along the way broke down.
’Malehlohonolo and her son were initially supposed face trial last August but the DPP asked for a postponement to February this year.
It was during that wait that Scott escaped from prison under circumstances prison authorities are yet to explain.
In February the DPP asked for another six-month postponement.
That angered Hoeane who said he could not understand why the crown had brought the matter for trial when it was not prepared to proceed.
“It just did not make sense. It you bring a case to court on an urgent basis the logic is that you are prepared to proceed,” he said.
“But that does not seem to be the logic here; a cart has been put before the horse. It seems a person has been arrested and investigations are now starting.”
On August 1 the matter was postponed again because Justice Thabo Moiloa was out of the country.
But when the trial was supposed to start on Monday this week the DPP had another request.
This time it was requesting that the trial be postponed to February next year.
That is when Hoeane asked what will become of ’Malehlohonolo between now and then.
The crown initially opposed the bail application but relented after discussions in the judge’s chambers.
‘Malehlohonolo will appear in court again on February 14 but Hoeane believes until then she will be in hiding for security reasons.
“This woman has been persecuted in the public domain. She has been considered guilty (in the public domain).
“For that season she has to hide herself,” he said.