HIGH COURT OF LESOTHO
MOLISE 1st APPELLANT
MOLISE 3rd APPELLANT
by the Honourable Mrs Justice K.J. Guni on the 15th day of December
matter came before me on Appeal, against the sentence imposed upon
these three accused by the Magistrate's Court, sitting in the Berea
accused were charged with the CRIME OF ASSAULT WITH INTENT TO DO
GRIEVOUS BODILY HARM. They were convicted on their own plea of Guilty
to this charge and were sentenced each to (12) twelve months
imprisonment without an option of a fine. They have now appealed
against this sentence on the ground that it is severe.
the facts of the case are as follows: The three accused are the herd
boys. The complainant is a man, who guards against the animals which
trespass upon the reserved grazing area "Leboella". In the
early morning hours of the 10th Day of March 2000, the three accused
drove their herds of cattle to the reserved grazing area where they
were found grazing by the complainant. The complainant must have
suspected or actually made firm observations, that there are animals
which are, by night and surreptitiously driven to graze over that
reserved grazing area. On the night in question, complainant
surprised the three accused when he found them there in the early
morning hours, with their herds still at it.
arrival at the place where the three accused were herding their
animals, the complainant enquired from the accused, why they behaved
in that fashion. He asked them why their animals come to gaze at that
reserved grazing area. They did not reply. He was, at the same time
as he asked the accused, those questions, rounding up the animals
with the clear intention to seize the said animals for the purpose of
taking them to the POUND.
three accused were seemingly not in favour of the pounding of their
was the first person to attack the complainant. The other two joined
him. They assaulted the complainant by hitting him with their sticks
all over his body. The complainant fell down while he was being so
assaulted by these three accused. While he had fallen, the three
accused nevertheless continued to assault him by hitting him further
with their sticks. Having disabled him from impounding their animals,
they drove their cattle away and left the complainant without
rendering him any assistance.
complainant must have got up and found his way back home. He reported
the matter to the headman of the village. The three accused and their
parents were called to the chief's place. An inquiry about the
incident was made. The accused gave their explanation. The matter was
referred to MAPOTENG POLICE. The Police, cautioned the accused and
then sought their explanation. The accused gave their explanation
following which the police gave them the charge.
complainant was referred to the hospital. There he was treated as an
out-patient. The medical report, "Exhibit A" was completed
at the time of the examination of the complainant by the Doctor who
carried out the said examination. The medical report was produced by
consent of all the accused.
injuries sustained by the complainant have been described on the
medical officer's report, Exhibit A; as follows:-
scalp laceration. Whip marks all over the body, especially, at the
back. Bruises on the Right forearm and hand. Fractures of the right
2nd 3rd phalanges and right 8 rib. The degree of force applied when
inflicting the said injuries is said by the Doctor to be very severe.
The danger to life of the injuries caused is moderate. The
complainant, will be, in the opinion of the Doctor, moderately
disabled. Such disability will remain partial for a long term.
three accused were correctly convicted on the charge of ASSAULT with
intent to do grievous bodily harm. They also do not have any problems
with their conviction. They have only appealed against sentence on
the ground that it is severe. It is argued that they should have been
given an option of a fine.
accused are young adults. Their ages range from twenty-two years to
twenty-six years. In mitigation for Sentence, all accused pleaded
with the court to treat them with leniency because they have not
wasted the court's time by pleading not guilty. They are not
contrite. They expressed no remorse for their action. When someone is
caught red handed, a plea of guilty to the charge in those
circumstances is not necessarily a matter of choice by the accused.
Saving their time and that of the court is a factor to be considered
in their favour when assessing an appropriate sentence. That by
itself cannot be said to entitle the
who took the law into their own hands and disrespected the
rights to the extent, these three accused did, to an exaggerated
degree of court's leniency.
court had taken into account when assessing sentence, the fact that
they have pleaded guilty and saved everyone concerned some time. They
did not disclose to the court any other factors which they wanted to
be considered, for the determination of an appropriate sentence.
Before this court, still there are no factors other than those
mentioned at the trial court, which this court is urged to consider
in order to reduce the sentence passed by the Berea Magistrate's
Court. The three accused had been convicted of one of the very
serious offences. Their behaviour; first by surreptitiously driving
their cattle to go and graze at the reserved grazing area and
secondly, by assaulting and injuring the complainant so seriously,
and leaving him without any assistance in that condition, gives me
the impression that they are extremely selfish people. They are
arrogant. They abrogate to themselves what should be for the common
good. When they were caught red handed, doing something wrong, they
should have acknowledged that, in stead of putting up resistence. It
is an aggravation of their offence to assault so seriously for that
matter, someone who was just doing his job.
It is the
gravity of the offence, which called for a term of imprisonment S V.
SPARKE 1972 (3) S A 396(A). The boys or young men who behave in this
fashion and treat other people in the manner the three accused
treated the complainant, need to be taught a lesson to respect others
and themselves too, in the process. The deterrent aspect of the
punishment, in the present case, need to be emphasised. It is common
among young BASOTHO men to selfishly use the reserved grazing areas
exclusively, by night, for their own animals. It is also common for
such young men to react with violence when stopped from acting
selfishly. A strong message must be sent to those who would think
likewise, that the game is not worth a candle. The accused were wrong
but instead they regarded the complainant as the one who they should
punish and they punished him very severely considering the injuries
they inflicted upon him.
appeal must fail and it is dismissed.
Appellants : Mr. Khasipe
Respondent: Mr. Ntaote
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