By Keiso Mohloboli
Lesotho Defence Force Staff Sergeant Mpolokeng Moleleki-Letlotlo was earlier today found guilty by the Court Martial for saying the slain former army commander, Lieutenant General Khoantle Motšomotšo, deserved to die.
Moleleki-Letlotlo will, however, await her sentencing pending mitigation by her lawyer, Advocate Zwelakhe Mda (King’s Counsel) before the same court on next week.
According to the evidence in court, the 39-year old staff sergeant uttered the following statement: “O shoele hantle Motšomotšo (which loosely translates Motšomotšo deserved to die).
Lt Gen Motšomotšo was reportedly fatally shot by his subordinates, the late Brigadier Bulane Sechele and Lieutenant Colonel Tefo Hashatsi, at his Ha Ratjomose Barracks office on September 5, 2017.
Moleleki-Letlotlo uttered her statement while she was in the army’s switchboard office at Makoanyane Barracks immediately after the demise of Motšomotšo.
Staff Sgt Moleleki–Letlotlo had been awaiting trial in open arrest since December 14, 2017.
The slain former army commander Lt Gen Motšomotšo was allegedly accused of “selling out” the pro former army boss Lt Gen Tlali Kamoli camp to the police and Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s administration before the fateful September 5.
Hashatsi was the commander of the Special Forces while Sechele was the legal adviser and chief prosecutor of the army.
Before that fateful shooting, Motšomotšo, Sechele, Hashatsi and Moleleki-Letlotlo firmly supported Kamoli when he refused to give up command of the army after Thabane fired him on August 29, 2014.
In the Court Martial assembled at Makoanyane Barracks earlier today, the court president Lieutenant Colonel Ramoriting found Moleleki-Letlotlo guilty as charged for contravening section 79 of the Lesotho Defence Force Act of 1996, this after the advice from Judge Advocate Lt Col Mathatjane.
“What happened on the 5th September 2017 is highly emotive and would therefore advise the honourable court to find the accused guilty as charged,” Lt Col Mathatjane said. Moleleki-Letlotlo’s statement was found to be rebellious and showing insubordination.
President Lt Col Ramoriting delivered the judgement pending sentence following a 30-minute adjournment for the court to deliberate on the adduced evidence.
“This honourable court has taken advice of the Judge Advocate and found the accused guilty as charged,” President Lt Col Ramoriting said, handing down the judgment.
However, the lawyer representing the accused, Adv Mda (KC) pleaded with the court to be given more time to prepare for mitigation.
“The court should accord enough time to prepare adequately for mitigation stage because it is an important stage and a determining factor of someone’s sentence,” Adv Mda KC said.
The President of the Court Martial therefore granted Adv Mda KC more time saying: “the date for sentence is set to be between 19th and 20th July 2018”.
According to section 79 of the LDF Act, “any person subject to this Act who is guilty of any act, conduct or neglect to the prejudice of good order and military discipline commits an offence and shall, on conviction, be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years”.