Magistrate to determine status of alleged killer cops

The six police officers accused of killing Italy Setlampoloka while interrogating him after his arrest for suspected robbery have been ordered back to the magistrate's court for a status hearing.

On Friday, Lobatse High Court judge, Zibani Makhwade, ordered that while waiting to hear the case, the accused should appear before Broadhurst Magistrate Haiwa Nuru for a status hearing on November 7.

Justice Makhwade also ordered the case to be brought before court on November 29 for arguments on constitutional issues raised by the accused at the magistrates court.The six accused police officers are Ranto Mmeleki (38), Tebogo Khutsafalo (35), Kabo Moffat Ramohibidu (30), Michael Ramhitshana (32), Dithuso Dintwe (41) and Patrick Gobotswang.

They were arraigned before the High Court on charges ranging from murder, destroying evidence, unlawful disposal of a dead body and giving false information to a person employed in the public service.

They have made an application before the High Court to decide whether the summary of evidence prepared by the state was admissible. The six were due to be referred to the High Court for trial early this year. However, they opposed this, arguing that what was contained in the summary of evidence amounted to a confession.

There were fears that the accused were headed for a disagreement with their defence attorneys on how to approach the case with the state. However, their differences have apparently been resolved.

Lawyers Busang Manewe represents Ramhitshana, Dintwe and Gobotswang, while Kgosiitsile Ngakaagae represents Mmeleki, Khutsafalo and Ramohibidu.In the first count, five of the accused - Mmeleki, Khutsafalo, Ramohibidu, Ramhitshana and Gobotswang - are alleged to have murdered Setlampoloka, whom they had earlier picked up for interrogation, on or about July 29, 2009. The five are also facing a charge of destroying evidence.

According to the charge sheet, the accused destroyed a plastic and a tyre tube they had allegedly used to torture the deceased while aware that it would be required in evidence in judicial proceedings. It is alleged that the accused burnt the tyre tube and the plastic in a rubbish container.

On the third count, three of the five alleged killers, Mmeleki, Khutsafalo and Gobotswang, are - together with Dintwe - alleged to have unlawfully dumped the body of the deceased at Samokala lands in Gabane.

On the fourth count, all the six accused are facing a charge of giving false information to a person employed in the public service. It is alleged that on August 6, 2009, the six accused gave false information to Detective Senior Superintendent Mosalagae Moseki to the effect that the deceased, Setlaampoloka, had escaped from lawful custody at Gabane Village and was subsequently found having committed suicide at Samokala lands. Each of the six was granted P3,000 bail and two sureties.

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The minister further shared that from the 320 businesses that notified the Commissioner of Labour about their plans to retrench, 20 were acceded to, which resulted in 204 workers being retrenched during April 2020 and July 2021.The retrenchments were carried out while the SoE was in place, meaning the companies that succeeded must have had solid reasons, despite the strict SOE regulations imposed on businesses to not retrench. We are left with...

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