HIGH COURT OF LESOTHO
: Miss Lesupi
Defence : Mr. Mahase
by the Honourable Mr. Justice T. Monapathi on the 11th day of
the Accused guilty on his own plea. This Accused person had been
charged with murder of Mr. Makhobalo Senekane on the 14th August 1999
at Tsitsa Ha Tsoeule in the District of Berea.
original charge had been that of murder. Murder means killing of a
human being with intention. He has pleaded guilty to Culpable
Homicide which means that Accused killed without intention but
negligently. Mr. Mahase
that this was in accordance with his instructions. The Crown accepted
the plea. What I eventually returned as the verdict was that this
Accused was guilty of Culpable Homicide.
Accused proceeded into the witness box where he gave evidence in
mitigation. His case was a pathetic case. He says his tree plantation
had been troubled by people who cut his trees without his permission.
Eventually on this day of the 14th August he came to know that there
was somebody who was interfering with his plantation because he was
informed by one Kaizer and another. Unfortunately that person who
turned out to be the Deceased was found in the act of interfering
with his plantation. He was then cutting trees. Accused questioned
him as to why he was interfering with his trees.
and Deceased then fought. This person found in the forest was a
person the Accused said he feared. The suggestion is that the
Deceased was the original aggressor who picked up a stick from a tree
and attempted to assault the Accused. This Accused ended up picking
up two stones with which he assaulted this Deceased who got seriously
injured. The suggestion is that he must be a good shot. On the
serious note, this Deceased died eventually. He lost his life five
days later as the result of the assault by this Accused.
Loss of a
human being's life is a serious thing. A person who has died goes
away from this life for ever. According to our law there is virtually
no complete excuse for killing of a human being by another except a
killing in self-defence or defence of property.
the Accused gave us a small history of his family circumstances. Most
pathetically that he is without a wife and he has got many school
going children and most importantly he appeals to this Court that the
Court must consider his situation. His children will end up suffering
when he is in prison because without a wife he was the sole person
taking care of the needs of his children. That I noted. This I noted
together with the fact that Accused was being disturbed and provoked
in the ownership of his plantation.
I have been told that Accused is a first offender and that he has no
that Accused even reported himself to the police because he felt
concerned and he was sorry for the plight of the injured deceased
person. He now feels sorry about the death of the deceased which
resulted. This I have noted.
back to say that the death of a human being is a serious thing. And
unavoidably it calls for a very tough kind of sentence which marks
the Court's view about serious offences like this one of killing
other people. Our people find it easy to kill other human beings. One
does not understand why there is this situation. There are often
killings of this kind all over the country. Sometimes people are
killed for petty reasons. This the Court cannot tolerate and we will
show this by imposing heavy sentences on people committing offences
Courts must set an example because the life of a human being is a
precious thing. I note again that a person who has died cannot come
back. He leaves dependants, he leaves his wife and relatives who will
lose his benefits and support. But not quite in the same way as this
Accused has. The Deceased, as it is colloquially said, has left on a
"one way ticket."
aspect is that the Courts are for service of the public. When they
administer justice in cases they do so because they are agents for
the public. They don't do things for their our sake. They do
punishments because they are much aware that the eyes of the public,
to whom they are accountable, are on them.
accountability goes far. That is why Courts are very careful not to
nonsensical and unreal sentences. Nonsensical sentences are sentences
too harsh or too lenient. So that at all times Court must sensibly
indicate their displeasure at offences of this kind.
these sentences is imprisonment. It is not because imprisonment is
the best sentence. It is because by sending people to prison can be
deterrence to others and protection to the society. There is a
well-founded belief that somebody who is sent to prison will be
rehabilitated because prisons nowadays are intended to rehabilitate
are advised not to appear to be angry. Courts should not be angry.
That is why Mr. Mahase spoke correctly about the need that justice
means a mixture of certain aspects with mercy. Mercy is an aspect of
justice. But sentences must be balanced against factors that I have
spoken about including this what 1 have called the attitude of the
public towards sentences that the Courts impose.
reiterate an important consideration is that the Courts are dealing
with a very sensitive public. It is that community which will be
sensitive to a situation where a known killer is on the loose. The
public will for example question seeing somebody who has killed being
released on bail on a second
after his arrest. Indeed it has got a right to question decisions of
the Courts in cases like that. And a society that behaves like that
behaves within its rights to question why courts are doing certain
things because it has got a right to make such a comment. That is why
the Courts rightly are always mindful of that the public's views.
This is different from the public dictating what punishments to
to be lenient to this Accused person. Accused please stand up. That
is why I sentence you to a period of three years imprisonment and
that term of imprisonment will be without option of a fine. That is
my order. You understand Sir? That is all.
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