Trio in court over murder of judge’s mother-in-law

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MASERU — Two women and a man appeared in the High Court yesterday charged with the murder of High Court Judge ‘Maseforo Mahase’s mother-in-law.

‘Manthakoana Mahase was murdered on August 11, 2009 at her home in Khubetsoana.

The crown alleges that ‘Makhotso Molise, 42, her son Khotso Molise, 18, and ‘Mantoa Mokoaleli, 26, connived to kill Mahase.

The court heard that Mokoaleli was working for Mahase as a domestic worker when she allegedly committed the crime.

Molise and her son were Mahase’s neighbours.

Molise did odd jobs for Mahase.

The three, who have been in custody since their arrest last year, is also charged with stealing a gas cylinder and a sewing machine from Mahase’s house after killing her.

They however pleaded not guilty to both charges when they appeared before Justice Ts’eliso Monaphathi who was sitting with two assessors on Wednesday.

The Director of Public Prosecutions Leaba Thetsane is prosecuting the case.

Crown witness ‘Mants’abeng Kolobe, who was Mahase’s neighbour and friend, told the court that she became suspicious on August 12 when she did not see Mahase for days.

She said she got worried because Mahase, an octogenarian at that time, had been ill for some time.

She told the court that two earlier Mahase had told her that she was not feeling well.

She said when she inquired about her whereabouts Mokoaleli told her that Mahase had gone to hospital in Ladybrand.

Kolobe said she then checked with Mahase’s daughter, Nthakoana Mahase, who stayed in the same village but would occasionally visit her mother because old age had taken a toll on her health.

“We agreed that the following day Nthakoana would go to Ladybrand to inquire from the people she knew whether the deceased could have visited them,” said Kolobe.

She said on the following day (August 13) Nthakoana told her that her relatives in Ladybrand had told her that they had not seen Mahase. 

“I then asked Nthakoana to call her siblings to inquire about the whereabouts of the deceased. She called her brother Thabiso Mahase who told her that he had not seen their mother,” Kolobe said.

She said she only heard news of Mahase’s death on August 14 when someone called her to come to Mahase’s house.

“On arrival I found many people already gathered at the house. The people asked me to go and peep into the bedroom of the deceased. 

“I entered the bedroom and saw blood on the bed and the deceased’s body was already covered and I retreated,” Kolobe told the court. 

Advocate Thabo Nteso is appearing for the defence.

The trial case continues.

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