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CJ turns tables on crown

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MASERU – CHIEF Justice Sakoane Sakoane says he is concerned that Mothetjoa Metsing and Selibe Mochoboroane were improperly included as suspects in the Sub-Inspector Mokheseng Ramahloko murder case.
Justice Sakoane has taken over the case after last week’s abrupt resignation of Justice Onkemetse Tshosa, a Botswana judge who had been seconded here to hear high profile cases.
Justice Sakoane said it is unfair for Mochoboroane and Metsing political leaders “to just come to court on a matter which does not concern them”.
He said their “presence in court is just a mere visit and that is unfair to them”.

“I have looked at the indictment and I find that the prosecution has charged the accused persons with several counts and some were added and, in this indictment, some accused persons are charged while some are not charged,” Justice Sakoane said.
“Their presence before the court is unfair to them as they come to court with costs which include them paying their counsel to represent them,” he said.
“They just came here before me at cost without anything against or which affects them, please check the Act (Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act).”
“Apply your mind on those sections. We have to conduct a fair trial here,” he said.

Advocate Motiea Teele on behalf of Metsing and Mochoboroane, said they have applied that they should not be joined in this case.
He told the court that his issue was that the joinder application is unfair to his clients.
He said he challenged the authority of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to join his clients in Sub Inspector Ramahloko’s murder case but Justice Tshosa ignored his argument.
“My issue was, before joining my clients or charging them all the necessary sections should be considered, including the authority of the DPP to join them,” Advocate Teele said.
“Justice Tshosa did not want to listen to me at all.”
“The rule of law is clear that the DPP should not be challenged in the criminal court but that should be done in civil court.”

Advocate Teele said Justice Tshosa was aware of the constitution that it is only the civil court that has the authority to hear that matter but turned a blind eye and wanted to proceed with the case.
Justice Sakoane also grilled the prosecution over the delays in the ex-army commander Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli’s cases.
The prosecution and the defence were before Justice Sakoane to set new dates for soldiers on trial for the murder of Sub Inspector Ramahloko.
Matters however took a turn when the judge started asking about the Pre-Trial Conference. The crown failed to give the exact number of witnesses it intended to call.

The judge said he cannot sit for months presiding over a case that has been pending in the courts for more than two years.
“These accused persons have been in prison for too long. What should be done now that it seems like there are a lot of things you have to iron out?” he said
“How can I manage a case whose witnesses I don’t know,” he said.
He further asked the prosecution if they ever presented to the court with the opening statements and summary of facts.

Crown counsel Advocate ’Naki Nku said they did not and admitted this was a mistake.
Advocate Nku also fumbled when asked how many witnesses she had.
“Since it has been a long time without talking to them it may happen that some of them are no longer available so may I please be given time to prepare that,” she said.
“This case has not been following the right procedure and we are sorry for that hence we ask to be given time to correct our wrongs,” she said.

’Malimpho Majoro

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