The trial of three men accused of using unlawful force by throwing teargas at the Democratic Congress (DC) supporters has been postponed until December 5 when the legal representative would be addressing the court on how to handle evidence of the hostile witnesses in accordance with the law.
According to Advocate (Adv.) Rabati Akhosi, one of the defence lawyers, two witnesses denied statements that were made at the police station as theirs. He said the witnesses showed that the police officers forced them to accept and sign the statements as theirs.
“One said he doesn’t know the statement because he was forced by police officers,” he continued, “The other one said the statement was read to him and thereafter he was asked to sign it.”
These statements, Adv. Akhosi said he could not divulge into detail as that would be delving into the merits of the case before addressing the court.
The accused are two police officers - Sello Mpatlise and Seeiso Majara - and civil servant Teluntṧo Mahloane. The three men allegedly threw teargas that suffocated the DC supporters at Maseru Day High School on December 2, 2016. On the day in question, the DC was holding a special conference that saw former DC deputy leader, Monyane Moleleki, defecting to form his own party – Alliance of Democratic (AD).
Advocate Tlohang Mohanoe said, in his own opinion, the court is misdirecting itself by expecting the defence councils to address it on the evidence of hostile witnesses at this stage. He said, at this stage, the court was supposed to make a decision on whether the accused have a case to answer or not.
Adv. Mohanoe indicated that after the crown had closed its evidence of 11 witnesses, as the defence, they filed an application of discharge. He said they asked the court to discharge the accused because the crown had failed to establish the case to answer.
The defence claimed that none of the 11 witnesses in their evidence managed to put the accused at the crime scene. Adv. Akhosi said the evidence showed that the witnesses just smelled the teargas and ran for their lives. He said no one pinpointed the accused as the ones who threw the teargas at the DC supporters.
The case is before Magistrate Lerato Ntelane.