Suspected assassins in court

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MASERU — Two men who are alleged to have been involved in last month’s failed attempt to assassinate Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili appeared in court last week charged with kidnapping and robbery. 

Solomon Mabasa, 46, from Orange Farm in South Africa and Antonio Joseses Lopes, 37, from Mozambique appeared before chief magistrate Molefi Makara last Friday. 

Their heads were covered when they appeared in court.

The two are facing two charges of robbery and seven counts of kidnapping.

The chief suspect Makotoko Lerotholi, 59, was charged with the same crimes in absentia.

He is understood to have fled back to South African where he had been living since he was fingered in the 2007 political disturbances.

Police say Lerotholi slipped back into the country to mastermind the attack.

Seven other suspects are in custody in South Africa following their arrest a day after the attack. 

The Lesotho Times is in possession of the police charge sheet that the state will use to prosecute the men.

In the first count of robbery the state alleges that on April 22 the men acting in consert with others still unknown to the prosecution went to Makoanyane Barracks and stole arms.

They forced guards at offices in the transport section, special force block and duty room  to surrender property which included guns, ammunition, magazines, vehicles and cellphones.

They took 22 AK47 rifles and 11 Galil rifles.

They took 135 rounds of ammunition, 37 magazines of AK47 rifle and 19 magazines of Galil rifles.

The men took two 9mm sub-machine guns.

The charge sheet also says the assailants took two desert camouflage jackets, eight camouflage armoured vests and six ICOM VHF radios.

From the soldiers the assailants took six cellphones, a military identification card, a driver’s licence and a wallet containing M1 670.

They also took an armoured car and a Land Rover.

In the second count the state alleged that the accused and others still unknown went to the Ha Tsolo (Moeling bus terminus area) and unlawfully took a white Super 16 minibus (registration number A4928) from Tsotetsi Nkhale.

They threatened to shoot him if he resisted surrendering the vehicle.

They also robbed him.

That on the same day they kidnapped Sergeant Motsoto and forced him at gun-point to drive the armoured car that had been robbed from Makoanyane Barracks to the State House.

At the State House and still at gun-point the assailants ordered Motsoto to enter the gate.  Motsoto however managed to hit a wall near the gate to alert the State House guards.

After fire exchange with the State House guards the assailants then ordered Motsoto to drive the armoured car back to Makoanyane barracks.

From Makoanyane Barracks the assailants then forced Motsoto to drive to Ha Mosalla where they abandoned the armoured car and fled.

The second kidnapping charge is that on the same day the accused entered Makoanyane Barracks and seized Corporal Sekhonyana.

They fastened his hands with shoe laces and forced him in to the Land Rover.

They ordered him to lie down while one of the assailants drove the vehicle to the State House.

From the State House they drove to Ha Mosalla where Sekhonyana was eventually released.

On the forth account the accused kidnapped Private Tsolele, fastened his hands with shoe laces and forced him into the Land Rover before driving to the State House.

After being repelled by the State House guards the accused drove to Ha Mosalla where Tsolele was freed.

On the fifth count the accused seized Private Tlelase, drove with him to the State House before proceeding to Ha Mosalla where they later released him.

In the sixth count they did the same to Private Molise. 

The case was remanded for May 18, 2009.

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