FORMER Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) commander, Lieutenant-General Tlali Kamoli, faces a lengthy wait for his murder and attempted murder trial in prison after the prosecution elected to oppose his bail application.
The prosecution filed on Monday its intention to oppose Lt-Gen Kamoli’s application in the High Court to be released from Maseru Maximum Security Prison on bail.
The former army commander had applied for bail last Friday after being charged with one count of murder and 14 counts of attempted murder in the Magistrate’s Court on 16 October 2017.
The murder charge is for the fatal shooting of police Sub-Inspector Mokheseng Ramahloko during the 30 August 2014 attempted coup against the first government of Prime Minister Thomas Thabane.
In the murder charge, the former LDF chief was joined to three army officers who were charged last month and are also detained at the prison.
The 14 attempted murder charges stem from the 27 January 2014 simultaneous bombings of the Moshoeshoe II homes of First Lady Maesiah Thabane, ‘Mamoshoeshoe Moletsane and the Ha Abia residence of former police commissioner Khothatso Tšooana.
As part of investigations into the attacks, then police commissioner Tšooana had requested to interview eight LDF members, but Lt-Gen Kamoli refused to surrender the soldiers, thereby souring relations between the two security agencies.
The prosecution is now expected to file the answering affidavits opposing the bail application over the course of this week to enable the High Court to determine whether to hear arguments on the application next Monday, or to select a date of hearing.
In his bail application, Lt-Gen Kamoli promised not to skip the country if granted bail.
He also argued that the refusal by the High Court to grant him bail would result in his lengthy stay in custody as it was unlikely that his murder trial would kick off before 2019 due to the shortage of judges.
Lt-Gen Kamoli also denied killing Sub-Inspector Ramahloko, who was shot dead at police headquarters during an army raid to disarm key Maseru police stations.
The military claimed the raid was meant to foil a Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) plan to arm civilians. However, the operation has been widely regarded as an attempt to topple a sitting government.
The 30 August 2014 raid was conducted soon after Dr Thabane fired Lt-Gen Tlali Kamoli as head of the LDF.
Lt-Gen Kamoli refused to go and deployed soldiers to raid and seize arms from police stations around Maseru. Lt Gen Kamoli accused the LMPS of planning to give civilians firearms for use during a Lesotho Congress for Democracy street protest that was scheduled for 1 September 2014.
The LMPS has since denied allegations it had ever planned to arm civilians and Dr Thabane fled the country after receiving a tip off that his life was in danger. He would then only return the next month under heavy South African police guard.
In his bail application, Lt-Gen Tlali also accused Mr Tšooana of sabotaging a joint investigation into the simultaneous bombings.
“Your petitioner’s efforts to make findings on the bombs was vitiated by the fact that the-then Commissioner of Police, Mr Khothatso Tšooana prevented the joint investigations of the matter by the police, National Security Service (NSS) and the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) which was ordered by the-then Prime Minister, the Rt. Honourable Motsoahae Thabane who is presently the Prime Minister.
“Mr Tšooana, at the time, refused to attend a meeting that was convened by the-then Deputy Prime Minister, Honourable Mothetjoa Metsing.”
According to the application, Mr Metsing was accompanied by the-then Minister of Sports, Thesele ‘Maseribane and the-then minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Molobeli Soulo and the then Director of the NSS Seeiso Lerotholi.
“Your petitioner, in the event of his bail application being resisted, shall subpoena some of the above mentioned people so that the court may make an informed determination of this matter,” reads part of the petition.
Lt-Gen Kamoli also urged the court to take into consideration the fact that he reported to the police after being summoned, even though he knew about the seriousness of the charges he was going to face.
According to the court papers Lt-Gen Kamoli spends much of his time in Ha-Leqele, Maseru and his rural home in Bobete, Thaba-Tseka district.
His lawyers suggest that he should be released on bail on condition that he pays a bail deposit of M1 000, reports to police headquarters on his remand dates and does not interfere with state witnesses.
The former army commander is expected to appear again before the Magistrate’s Court on remand next Monday.