Ramoepana’s plea fails

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By Itumeleng Koleile

Pitso Ramoepana has withdrawn his plea to jurisdiction following a record of proceedings of the late Justice Maseshophe Hlajoane which indicated that the charges had in fact been read to the accused persons.

Ramoepana, who is co-accused to the other nine members of the Lesotho Defence Force for the murder of three civilians in Maseru on the 16th May 2016, had earlier told the court that he was not prepared to plea as the court had no jurisdiction.

Through his legal representative, he told the court that the correct procedure was not followed in joining him to the charges and that the charges were not read to him at the magistrate court.

While taking the witness stand, he told the court that to his knowledge, there was no recollection of ever having had the charges read to him.

He told the court that on the day Sharite arrived at the Maseru central prison for interviews, he told him he was not a part of the accused persons on the murder charges of three civilians.

The court had today called assistant registrar Stafford Sharite to the witness stand to give evidence on what had transpired since the day the accused persons were interviewed.

Sharite told the court that as part of his responsibilities, he had conducted interviews with the accused persons whereby Ramoepana raised an objection as he said he was not formally charged.

“I told him to raise the issue to his legal representative so that it is dealt with in court,” he said.

He however said upon having received a file, the accused persons were given a notice of trial.

“On the first notice, the accused were called to an interview, inclusive of Ramoepana,” he said.

He added that on the day the accused persons appeared in court, before the late Justice Hlajoane, an indictment was read to them upon which they were told the matter was yet to be allocated to the presiding judge.

The crown counsel, represented by Shawn Abrahams, produced a record of the proceedings of the 26th March 2018 which reflected that although the accused did not plead, an indictment was read to them.

Justice Moroke Mokhesi then told the court that he had no reason to believe that Justice Hlajoane would record untrue facts.

The trial has commenced and the first witness has taken a stand.

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