South African lawyer dropped as Lesotho treasons trial lead prosecutor

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By Itumeleng Koleile

Chief Justice Sakoane Sakoane has yesterday ordered Advocate Shawn Abrahams’ will no longer appear as lead prosecutor in the treason trial after concluding that Director of Public Prosecutions, Hlalefang Motinyane misled the court, and committed perjury.

The court was yesterday scheduled to hear arguments on the defence counsel’s motion to quash the indictment on charges of murder, attempted murder and treason against former army commander Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli, leader of the Movement for Economic Change, Selibe Mochoboroane and three other soldiers.

Former deputy prime minister Mothetjoa Metsing is also among the accused but has to date not been officially appeared before the court and a warrant for his arrest has been issued.

The case was halted by the disclosure by Abrahams that he would be assuming his role as the lead prosecutor although advocate ‘Naki Nku was last week appointed lead prosecutor on the case.

Sakoane told the court that Abrahams’s appearance as the lead prosecutor is rejected.

This was after he conducted an interview and called both Advocate Motinyane and Abrahams to the witness stand to enquire whether the Director of Public Prosecutions had misled the court about the lead prosecutor’s absence or not.

After questioning both Motinyane and Abrahams the court concluded that indeed the court was misled and rejected Abrahams as lead prosecutor in the case.

In giving out his ruling, Sakoane told the court that although the Motinyane had misled the court, she made a narrow escape because her application was aborted and never got anywhere.

“The DPP, although misled the court, has escaped a fine of M5 000 from her own pocket, with the skin of teeth as her application was aborted,” he said.

In the enquiry, Chief Justice told the court that the case was set down to proceed for the 10th to the 17th, however, under instructions of Motinyane, advocate Hopolang Nathane on the 10th told the court he was applying for the postponement of the case.

The Director of Public prosecutions had filed an application for postponement supported by the founding affidavit arguing that Abrahams would be unavailable on the dates although he showed up in court yesterday despite Motinyane’s reason for the postponement.

However, Nathane withdrew his application while Nku was appointed lead prosecutor.

According to Sakoane, he had expected Nku to continue working on the case as per the turn of events for the 10th.

“On Friday, last week, we had to postpone because one of the defence lawyers, Advocate Napo Mafaesa had been assaulted by police while advocate Kabelo Letuka was in hiding.

“We were forced to postpone to today. Then today, Abrahams shows up and tells the court that he will be leading prosecution despite the application for postponement.

“This is an indication that this application was not done in good faith.

“DPP said Abrahams was unavailable hence relieves were sought on her application on the 10th.

“This forced me to conduct an enquiry, to determine whether the court was misled, so as to give sanctions on the crown for if found to have misled the court,” Sakoane said.

He said after having listened to testimonies of both Motinyane and Abrahams, he had no doubt that the Director of Public Prosecutions did not have the confidence in the court when filing her affidavit.

In addition, he said it is unsettling that the Director of Public Prosecutions did not debrief Abrahams after having it on record that Nku would be taking over the case.

Advocate Motiea Teele KC, while cross-examining the Motinyane said it is odd that the office of the Director of Public prosecutions had deployed Abrahams to be lead prosecutor while Nku, who has more than 40 years’ experience was assisting the lead prosecutor.

He added that it is common practice that when the lead prosecutor is unavailable, the one working closely with him has to take over when the need arises.

Teele KC was referring to the fact that when Abrahams had told Motinyane he would be unavailable, Nku should have been the one to take over.

“Knowing that Abrahams would be unavailable, why did Nku not take over?”

In response, Motinyane told the court that Nku could not take over as she had health-related problems, “we discussed with Nku to engage Nathane”.

The case is set to continue on Thursday where parties will be arguing on the motion to quash the indictment.