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Editor needed to be silenced, says accomplice witness

Lesotho Times

Lesotho's widely read newspaper, published every Thursday and distributed throughout the country and in some parts of South Africa. Contact us today: News: [email protected] Advertising: [email protected] Telephone: +266 2231 5356

Moorosi Tsiane

AN ACCOMPLICE witness in the trial of four soldiers accused of the 2016 attempted

murder of Lesotho Times and Sunday Express editor, Lloyd Mutungamiri, says he was told by one

of the accused, Colonel Khutlang Mochesane, that the editor needed to be “threatened and


According to the witness Corporal Mahanyane Phasumane, the editor was not supposed to be killed even if shots were to be fired at him. The plan, he told the Maseru Magistrates’ Court yesterday, was just to scare him.

Corporal Phusumane told the court that he was the one who drove Corporal Nyatso

Tšoeunyane and Lance Corporal Maribe Nathane from Ratjomose Barracks to Mr Mutungamiri’s home in  Lower Thamae where the shooting incident took place on the night of 9 July 2016.

Mr Mutungamiri was shot and left for dead when he was ambushed as he arrived and

attempted to open the gate to his home after finishing duty at the Sunday Express.

One bullet broke two of his right-hand fingers and another shattered his lower jaw, which left him

needing specialised surgery to restore his face and remove the bullet lodged behind his left ear.

Mr Mutungamiri told the court when he testified in March last year that he had undergone multiple

operations to repair the injuries but still needed more surgery to continue with the restoration process.

Phasumane yesterday told the court that he had been ordered to drive Tsoeunyane and Nathane by Colonel Mochesane who described Mr Mutungamiri as someone who was writing bad things about the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) and needed to be threatened and silenced.

“Sometime in 2016, Colonel Mochesane called me into his office and told me that there is one

person who usually writes bad things about the LDF and that person’s name is Lloyd and that he

works for the Lesotho Times newspaper,” Corporal Phusumane told the court.

“He said that person should be silenced by threatening him. His instruction was that even if he

(Mutungamiri) is shot at, he should not be killed. He had already picked the people I was

supposed to work with on the mission. My mission task was only to drive the said people.

“Some days later after we discussed that, I was sitting in a white 4×4 bakkie with Lance Corporal

Nathane when Corporal Tsoeunyane arrived carrying two .38 riffles and 10 rounds of ammunition.

He then gave one gun to Nathane and they both sat in the back seat of the bakkie. He told me that

he knows I had already been informed that I would be driving them and said we should leave.

“We left Ratjomose Barracks and took the Thetsane direction. As we were heading to Maseru Mall

circle, we saw a vehicle coming from the (then) Lesotho Times offices direction and I heard a voice

saying I should follow it. We took Katlehong direction and followed the said car. As we drew near the

New Millennium High School (in Lower Thamae) Tsoeunyane said I should drop them there and come back to pick them at the same spot. I drove to the Thabong circle direction and returned in an about 10-15 minutes and I found them at the spot where I had dropped them. They jumped into the car and said I should drive back to Ratjomose Barracks.”

However, Corporal Phasumane’s evidence was cut after Col Mochesane, Corporal Tsoeunyane and

Lance Corporal Nathane’s lawyer, Advocate Karabo Mohau King’s Counsel, objected that they could

not proceed while the court’s recording machines were not working.

His sentiments were echoed by another lawyer, Adv Letuka Molati, who represents the fourth

accused, Brigadier Rapele Mphaki ,who was the Military Intelligence boss at the time.

Lead prosecutor, Adv Rethabile Setlojoane’s attempt to have the trial proceed without the recorders, was shot down by the presiding officer, Senior Resident Magistrate Peter Murenzi.

Magistrate Murenzi  agreed with the defence counsels and postponed the matter to 2 August 2023.

“I understand the position of the law that establishes the jurisdiction of the court. I have heard

arguments where consistent recording is requested. I feel the submissions are important in our

jurisprudence. I have been advised that I should remember that this is a sensitive case with sensitive

attendants, and I should avoid having it being approached in a manner that would result in a mistrial.

“I find it prudent to stand down this matter for two weeks to avoid a mistrial. I therefore reschedule

this matter to 2 August 2023,” concluded Magistrate Murenzi.