HIGH COURT OF LESOTHO
by the Hon. Sir Peter Allen on the 2nd day of September, 1987
accused, a building labourer aged 46 years, is indicted on a charge
of murdering one Mpho Letsie at Qalakheng in Mohale's Hoek
on 12 April 1986.
commencement of the trial the evidence of two witnesses, given at the
P.E., was admitted. This consisted of the testimony
of Dr. Konerding
who examined the body of the deceased and his post mortem report
(exhibit'A'); and the testimony of Tsiu Letsie,
an aunt of the
deceased, who identified the body to the doctor.
the accused and the deceased had previously lived together as lovers
for about four months until the deceased left him.
She then went to
live with her friend 'Matsotang Lerotholi (PW2),who testified that
the accused was unhappy about losing her and
that he came and took
away all the deceased's clothes and held on to them until the police
had to intervene and order him to return
her property to her.
day in question 'Matsotang left her home to go to a cafe some
distance away. She left the deceased at home selling local
customers. On the way to the cafe 'Matsotang passed a bar belonging
to one Mahoarama where she met the accused. She said
that the accused
was carrying a thin steel rod, about a half metre in length, with a
sharpened end (exhibit '1') wrapped inside
his blue jacket. He asked
where the deceased was and 'Matsotang replied that she was at her
(P.W.2's) home selling beer. He appeared
to be sober at that time.
accused told her that he had heard that the deceased was then in love
with one Khits'ane (P.W. 3) and 'Matsotang replied that
it was not
his business and she left him there and went on to the cafe. The
accused then went to see the deceased at 'Matsotang's
there were a number of people drinking beer. Among these were two of
the witnesses. They were Molahlehi Khits'ane (P.W.3).
a 25 years old
builder's labourer,and Mochochonono Makoetlane (P.W.4) a 46 years old
denied that he had had any sort of relationship with the
deceased. Both of these witnesses described how they were
'Matsotang's house at around sunset when accused arrived there.
Mochochonono (P.W.4) was in a group of people who were
singing traditional songs. The deceased was moving about serving
customers with beer.
accused came to the doorway and called to the deceased to "come
and talk" but she replied that she could not come
as she was
busy selling beer to people. Both of the witnesses described how the
accused was carrying the
wrapped inside his blue jacket. They said that the accused walked
over to the deceased and struck her with the rod still
wrapped in his
coat. Blood came out of her chest and she fell down. The accused then
left the house and went away.
then arrived home and they all looked for a vehicle in which to take
the deceased to hospital. The witnesses stated that
the accused was
not talking or acting like a drunken person at the time.
mortem report indicates that the deceased was stabbed through the
heart so, presumably, she was dead before being taken
hospital. The police carried out investigations and searched for the
accused, who apparently had gone to Maseru. Over a
month later, on 19
May 1986,the accused was arrested at Qalakheng by Detective Tpr.
Letsoepa (P.W.1) with a chief. They entered
the accused's home and he
produced the sharpened steel rod (exhibit '1') and handed it to the
policeman, who described it as being
commonly used for slaughtering
cattle and killing rats. The detective denied that the accused said
anything about a knife and insisted
that the accused produced the rod
as the weapon used by him.
accused elected to testify on oath in his defence. He asserted that
the deceased left him after three months because she was
in love with
Khits'ane at the time of this incident.
day in question he met 'Matsotang on the way and enquired about the
deceased. 'Matsotang told him not to go to her home to
look for the
deceased until she ('Matsotang) had returned home. He denied that he
the steel rod at that time. He left 'Matsotang and went to her home
to see the deceased in spite of having been told not
to go there. He
said he was carrying his blue jacket over one shoulder at the time.
He claimed he had been drinking quite a lot
by then and that he went
to ask the deceased to brew some beer for him and to return his
money, seven rands, which she owed to
reaching 'Matsotang's home the accused saw Khits'ane there and he
told the deceased to come outside to talk with him. She replied
she could not as she was serving beer to people. Khits'ane came up to
them and the accused turned to go out of the door. He
said he was
then pushed hard from behind, he assumed by Khits'ane, and he fell
and hit his head against the wall. He was dazed
when he turned round
and saw what he described as the shadow of a person think he meant
the "silhouette"). He immediately
pulled out an okapi clasp
knife from his pocket and stabbed that person believing it to be
Khits'ane who had pushed him. He was
about to stab again when he saw
he had attacked a woman, so instead he went outside where he found
two men smoking dagga. One of
them tried to throw a brick at him but
the other prevented him. He then stood for three minutes watching the
and having a conversation with Khits'ane before she
cross-examined the accused admitted that he stabbed the deceased and
caused her death. He persisted that he had used a knife
and not the
steel rod and that it was because Khits'ane had pushed him. He agreed
that it was wrong to stab someone who had merely
pushed him but
claimed that he was in considerable pain and provoked at the time.
he had not gone there to kill the deceased, that he had not carried
the steel rod, but he admitted he had a weapon, a knife,in
possession at the time. He added that he lost the knife afterwards.
accused stated that he had trouble with his eyes and could not see
well. In fact his medical book showed he had immature cataracts,'
which are not likely to have affected his eyesight much at that
stage. Having insisted that he could not even see the court
properly who was sitting next to him, the accused then
insisted that he saw and recognised both the deceased and Khits'ane
the room and again when Khits'ane walked towards him. He tried
to explain this inconsistency by saying that his eyesight only
became unclear after he fell against the wall. It was not a very
convincing explanation and I agree with Crown Counsel that the
accused's eyesight tended to be selective in that he only saw What he
wanted to see.
in cross-examination, had completely denied that he approached or
pushed the accused,and Mochochonono (P.W.4) stated
that he did not
see it happen.
accused was clearly lying when he said that he stood for three
minutes watching the deceased conversing with Khits'ane after
accused had stabbed her. The medical report shows that she was
stabbed right through the heart and nobody with such a fatal
would be able to stand about chatting to people.
difficult to understand why the accused insisted that he did not
use the steel rod. All three witnesses who saw him on
described how he was carrying it wrapped in his jacket and they
clearly indentified the weapon.
the detective (P.W.1) who arrested him over a month later said the
accused handed the steel rod over to him as the
weapon used. There
was no apparent reason for these four people to lie about it since
neither of the weapons is any less dangerous
than the other., I
prefer to believe the testimony of the prosecution witnesses about
this. The medical evidence could have been
more helpful. The,,:
dimensions of the injury should have been shown and whether it was a
stab or punctured wound.
end it would make no difference anyway. Whether the accused used a
knife or the steel rod he agreed that he stabbed the deceased
death with it and the consequences would be the same for him and for
the deceased. In his own words, "there was no justification
killing the deceased." He was in no danger himself at the time
and it was not done in self-defence. Even if he was pushed
not amount to sufficient provocation so as to justify the use of
question is whether he killed her intentionally. There is some
evidence in support of that view. He was seen carrying the
partially concealed before he went to find the deceased and when he
enquired of P.W.2 about her whereabouts. He called to
the deceased to
come outside. That could possibly be because he did not want to stab
her in front of those people. He was upset
about her having left him
and jealous because he believed she had become the girl friend of
Khits'ane, a much younger man than
defence the accused claimed that he was very drunk at the time, but
none of the witnesses confirmed this. They each said
that he appeared
and acted in a sober fashion.
that he may have been drinking would not excuse his actions anyway.
that he was upset over losing the deceased or, at least, over the
fact that she had some money of his, and it may well
be that he had
been drinking. I do not consider that there is sufficient evidence of
premeditation or malice aforethought. The
accused may have gone there
to quarrel with her and possibly to assault her, but I do not find
that there is sufficient proof that
he intended to kill her.
whichever weapon he used, he clearly committed an unlawful assault
upon her with a dangerous weapon, which resulted in
death. In the accused's own words, there was no justification for
this. He should not have been carrying any weapon
at all, especially
if he had been out drinking. I agree with the Assessors that the
accused unlawfully caused the death of the
deceased but without the
intention to kill her.
the accused is acquitted on the indictment of murder but, instead, he
is convicted of the lesser offence of culpable
for the Defence
Mdhluli for the Crown
accused is a first offender aged about 46 years and old enough to
know how to behave in his community. He may have been drinking
felt upset at losing the love of the deceased but that did not
justify his assaulting her let alone killing her. He behaved
violent and disgraceful manner.
into account that the accused has been in custody for over one year
awaiting trial and I shall count that as a part of his
is sentenced to imprisonment for three years.
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