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Documents in murder case vanish



MASERU – DOCUMENTS that the prosecution was relying on to build a case against Qamo Matela, a Berea man who allegedly battered his wife to death last year, have disappeared.

High Court judge Justice Tšeliso Mokoko had to postpone the case to today, after a lengthy request by the crown to adjourn it to October 12, when Matela appeared in court on Monday.

Matela is being charge with the murder of his wife ’Mahlompho Matela.

The case has stalled after the crown told Justice Mokoko that the missing documents are “untraceable”.

Justice Mokoko ordered the crown to ensure that there will be evidence today because he will not entertain their plea to postpone the case any further.

“The court is unhappy about this behaviour but for the sake of justice to be served the case will only be postponed till Thursday the 15th September this year,” Justice Mokoko said.

“I cannot under any circumstances postpone this matter to the 12th October,” he said.

“If on Thursday you are not ready to proceed with this matter, then do something about it.”

Without evidence, the law allows the crown to drop the charge against the accused person.

If the crown does not drop the charges, the law gives the judge powers to acquit the suspect.

This means that Matela could go scot-free if the crown fails to find the missing evidence.

Matela is accused of strangling and hitting his wife to death last year.

She sustained fatal injuries on the neck and other parts of the body.

It is understood that the crucial part of evidence against Matela is contained in a post-mortem report by pathologist Dr Lefatle Phakoana.

Matela had told High Court judge Justice Moroke Mokhesi, in opposing papers when the wife’s maiden family petitioned the court to interdict him from burying her, that she had died of natural causes.

Justice Mokhesi granted the application relying on Dr Phakoana’s findings.

Justice Mokhesi said Matela had lied saying that his wife had died of natural causes.

The judge said Matela had to explain what had caused the bruises and internal bleeding Dr Phakoana found on the wife’s body.

“From the onset it should be stated that (Matela)’s version that the deceased died of natural causes is clearly untenable when seen in the light of the post-mortem report and I accordingly reject it,” Justice Mokhesi said.

“(Matela)’s version ignored the finding of the post-mortem examination in favour of a superficial examination of the deceased,” he said.

“When the version of (Matela) is assessed against these common cause facts, it will be seen it is curious and pales into a state which beggars belief.”

Matela had relied on a medical report of one Dr Mosese that his wife had died of natural causes, “in total disregard to the post-mortem report”.

Justice Mokhesi said this was “opportunistic and ridiculous”.

He said Matela curiously did “not even make a fleeting mention of the post-mortem when he protests his innocence”.

“He does not even say on what surface, if any, the deceased fell which could have resulted in such a traumatic activity,” he said.

Dr Phakoana had stated in the post-mortem report that “there were multiple bruises on the chest, a bruise on the left eye, bruises and scratches on the neck”.

He also found a “subcutaneous bleeding in the muscles of the neck and scalp”.

He said there was collection of blood in the subdural space of the brain, massive blood collection in the thoracic cavity, a lot of blood in the peritoneal cavity and a laceration of the liver with a lot of blood in the peritoneal cavity.

Tholoana Lesenya

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