HIGH COURT OF LESOTHO
by the Hon. Acting Mr. Justice M. L. Lehohla on the 12th day of
ruling made on 12th September 1986 this matter was postponed to 6th
November for hearing of defence evidence. Addresses
were heard on
13th November 1986.
the important aspects of the Crown evidence was dealt with in the
ruling that was made. It remains therefore to deal with
evidence against where necessary the background of the Crown
evidence. Defence evidence was led by the accused alone.
testified under oath that he is a policeman and that around the
period surrounding the events of 30th March 1985 when deceased
Phomolo Leballo met his death he was a policeman still undergoing
morning of 30th March 1985 Accused testified that he had been
drinking with friends at Upper Thamae. He went to deceased's
at Lower Thamae and arrived there at about 2 O'clock in the morning.
At the shebeen he found the deceased with some six
girl friend i.e. P.W.11 ('Mangaka Tlall) at P.E., deceased's sister
P.W. 10 (Nts'iuoa Leballo) at P.E., Thaba Hoohlo
P.W.9 at P.E., Tholo
Masakale P.W.8 at P.E., all of whose evidence was admitted in these
proceedings and some two others, to wit,
a girl whose name accused
does not remember and a young boy whom he does not know.
arrival accused was offered beer by the deceased. Apparently the two
were used to each other for a long time as stated by accused
he regarded him as an acquaintance. Deceased told him that he and the
people found present there were about to leave and
asked accused to
help drive deceased's vehicle and transport them in accused's
presence as the latter felt due to intake of much
alcohol he could
not personally drive his own vehicle. Accused agreed.
deceased sat on the front passenger seat while P.We 9, 10 and 11 at
P.E. occupied the back seat. Accused was the driver. The
headed for Lerotholi Technical Institute where P.W.9 and 10 supra
of the party drove to Khubetsoana. P.W.11 puts the time of their
arrival at 5 a.m. See page 16 of the P.E. record. After
at Khubetsoana P.W.11 supra was set down from the vehicle. She asked
deceased to also disembark for some talk but
it was not until
persuaded by accused that deceased complied. After some time deceased
got back into the vehicle and asked accused
to drive to
'Mamahlelebe's shebeen which is also at Khubetsoana. The time
according to accused was either 5 or 6 a.m. At this time
consisted exclusively of the two of them. They continued drinking
beer at this shebeen for about an hour.
stage during the drinking at this place deceased asked accused to
remove their car from the way to allow passage for other
vehicle road users. It was after accused had parked the vehicle
properly, having performed reversing mancuvers in the dark
guidance and direction of deceased that he noticed that deceased was
talking to some people near another vehicle. Accused
went back into
the house. On his return into the house deceased gave to accused a
plastic parcel. It turned out that this parcel
which accused did not count at the time. The parcel was handed over
to accused on the allegation that deceased
was wearing a trek suit.
Accused is non-committal on whether this trek suit had any pockets
for in his own words "According
to him (meaning deceased)it
appeared the trek suit had no pockets."
eventually the two left intending to go to their respective homes.
However accused decided to call at his girlfriend's home
Borokhoaneng. When deceased and accused left Khubetsoana it was
already light i.e. about 6 or 7 a.m. On knocking at his girlfriend's
door he was not allowed in the reason offered by the girlfriend being
that she had visitors. Thereupon accused informed the deceased
he would rather be dropped at the Main Bus Stop at Pitso Ground
because he was no longer interested in going home. This was
from the Pitso Ground where deceased took the wheel after accused had
been set down deceased then drove off taking the
towards Metro and rounded off the Molimo Nthuse Bottle Store corner
on the other side of which his vehicle disappeared.
This according to
accused is the last occasion that he saw the deceased.
testified that he was carrying a firearm borrowed from 2nd Lt.
Mokhele that day because he had not yet been issued with
because the store keeper responsible for issuing firearms was not
there. Accused is adamant that he never fired that firearm
morning of 30th March 1985 or at all.
Bus Stop accused says he went to T.Y. to visit his maternal uncle.
The time was then about 8 a.m. He was not supposed to
go to work on
that day. He concedes in his evidence in chief that he disappeared
from 30th March till 20th April 1985 when he eventually
his movements during the interval spanning the period of his
disappearance and eventual emergence accused says on the
31st March at around 9 p.m. he went to Khubetsoana to see a girl he
had met at 'Mamahlelebe's shebeen the previous day
night. He did not find her and was asked to go and wait outside for
taxis as 'Mamahlelebe was then going to bed.
thus waiting he saw that same vehicle he had seen deceased talking to
the occupants of on Saturday, arrive. One of the occupants
out of it and knocked at 'Mamahlelebe's door. Apparently he was not
allowed into the house whereupon he inquired from
the accused if it
was still open but was told"no". Accused then asked for a
lift from these two people who were strangers
to him. He had seen one
of them only once. They dropped accused at the turn off to Sebaboleng
for they were proceeding to Ha Ts'osane.
It was while accused was in
this vehicle that he was told by these two strangers that Phomolo was
dead. He learnt from them also
some further details bearing upon
death. These were that deceased had been shot by a policeman he had
been travelling with on the Saturday. On asking about
of the policeman in question they gave accused the description to
which accused's identity answered by fitting
in not only with the
time deceased and accused were together but also with his clothing
and the fact that the policeman in question
had, while at University,
been the goal keeper for the University football club Rovers.
informed accused that deceased's friends including police used
to those friends and soldiers were hunting for the policeman
question with the aim of killing him in the manner different from
that in which they had killed one Lebohang who had been shot.
time they would effect the killing secretly. He also learnt from
these strangers that Lebohang was an ordinary civillian who
on an allegation that he had shot deceased's friend.
was frightened by this story because he had learnt that the said
Lebohang had not been the person responsible for the killing
deceased's friend but was as innocent as accused regarded himself.
accused went home to sleep. Then on Tuesday he says he told the
police by which he was quick to explain that he phoned Major
Manamolela. The latter inquired where accused was phoning from so
that she could fetch him but accused declined to do so because
not know who to trust after hearing that deceased's friends were
intent on killing him by gun fire. He now says that in
calling from the Veterinary Clinic in Maseru.
denies that he ever came in the vicinity of the Agricultural College
during his travel with deceased.
April, 1986 at 12.45 p.m. he came to Police Training College and met
P.W.1 Sergeant Lerotholi after his arrival. The reason
there was that it would be useless hiding for a long time because he
would ultimately be found out by those people he
feared were hunting
P. W. 1
wanted to know why accused had disappeared and where he had been.
Accused informed him that there were people who were looking
alleging that accused had killed their friends so they wanted to
retaliate. Otherwise accused told him he was still in
further said P.W.1 did not tell him that police were looking for him
on suspicion of killing someone. Next the two went
for food as
accused told P.W.1 that he was hungry.
denies that he said without any prompting "I cleared one person;
one dog has died from the bullet." Accused says
he heard P.W.1
testifying that accused said the above words to him because P.W.1
alleged they were friends, a factor that accused
in the same breath he says they lately are on friendly terms and by
lately he says he means a little before the start of
Examination. He denies that on 20th April 1985 they were on friendly
terms. The basis of his assertion that they
were not on friendly
terms with Lerotholi then is as set out in the summary of the
evidence contained in the ruling referred to
testified that it was during the time while he and P.W.1 were at
meals that P.W.2 Lt. Letsie arrived
discussion ensued wherein P.W.2 inquired when accused intended coming
back to P. T. C. to complete the course. It is to be
although accused was a police trainee he was not based at P. T. C.
but was attached to Police Headquarters. Accused
replied that he
would come back to P. T. C. to complete the course when instructed to
do so. P.W.2 then told him that he was still
required at P. T. C. He
says it is not true that he was supposed to be at P.T.C. at the time.
He further points out that it is
not true that in answer to a
question put by P.W.2 he said he was back at P.T.C. because he had an
assignment. He remembers hearing
P.W.2 say in giving evidence that
accused did not divulge to him the nature of that assignment even
though accused was required
to comply when asked by P.W.2 as
accused's senior. He further says P.W.2 who was only 2nd Lt. cannot
have been the most senior
officer at P.T.C. at the time because
accused saw Lt. Mphutlane who is senior to P.W.2 Despite his denial
of P.W. 2's version it
is surprising indeed that accused should say
he suggested that he should rather be taken to Major Manamolela. The
reason for preference
to be taken to Manamolela is given as
having to do with accused's disappearance as against P.W.2's
intention to take accused to
the charge office.
charge office Lt. Col. Sehloho asked P.W.2 where the firearm accused
had been carrying was. Then accused took out the gun
bullets. The firearm was loaded. Accused unloaded it of four rounds
of ammunition which he had received from 2nd Lt. Mokhele
their intact state. Accused was never searched. He was locked up in a
cell and no charge was given to him before being
locked up. He only
knew for the first time that he was
this charge when he attended his first remand on 26th April, 1985.
to P.W.4's evidence (Lt. 'Neko's) accused concedes that he and P.W.4
are related but that he is not on good terms with
P.W.4 because the
latter is related to accused's wife and accused's marriage to his
wife is not a happy one. Accused denies that
some policeman told
P.W.4 that accused wanted to see him i.e. P.W.4. He denies ever
telling any policeman that he wanted to see
version is that he was fetched from the cell in the usual manner and
taken to Maseru C.I.D. office and he got seated on
a bench in the
corridor and was later called by a policeman to an office where he
found P.W.4. He denies having been asked by 'Neko
to give an
explanation about his disappearance. All he knows is that P.W.4 said
he should sit down then asked him if people with
whom he stayed still
come to see him and further whether they were bringing him clothes
and food. Accused replied in the affirmative
save that on that day
they had not come whereupon P.W.4 offered to bring him food if
he was hungry. Nothing relating to this
charge was discussed between
these two. He denied P.W.4'3 version that he said he had quarrelled
with deceased near Agricultural
College. He went further to stress
that at no time was he and deceased ever at that place. He denied
that P.W.4 asked him where
deceased was. He denied telling P.W.4 that
he left deceased at Mokoaqong and stresses that he did not know of a
place by that name
-around 23rd April 1985. He concedes that he went
to Ha Leqele with P.W.4, P.W.5 and one Alfa. The reason he went there
was to show the latter where he had
picnics on two previous occasions. He did not know before going there
on the day in question that a body had been removed
from there or
If I may
for a moment pause here and reflect on accused's testimony:- He has
strained to distance himself at every turn from any
the tragic event that befell the deceased. In doing so he has even
gone to ludicrous lengths. For him to suggest
that P.W.4 a senior
officer who was on a murder trail and as such called upon by
responsibilities of his office to interview or
interrogate a suspect
should confine himself to mundane things like whether accused was
still receiving food or clothing and; as
if that is not enough,go
along with a posse of senior policemen in the company of the accused
merely to have the latter show him
where he had previously held
picnics is, to say the least,absurd in the extreme.
went on inspection in loco to the area where accused alleges he went
with P.W.4 and others. Indeed P.W.5 led me first
to an area some
sixty paces from where vehicles were stationed. This is a donga
relatively shallower than the next lying another
thirty paces uphill.
The first spot accords more with the description given by the Crown
witnesses than the second one where they
later indicated is where the
body of the deceased was removed from. Accused admits that the first
spot is the one where he went
with P.W.4 to show him where he held
denies ever pointing inside any part in that donga and saying to
P.W.4 that a certain spot on the edge of the donga is where
the deceased. He says he never spoke about the deceased while he and
the others were there. He denies that after the alleged
then asked P.W.5 if he could confirm that this was the spot where
P.W.5 collected the body of the deceased. Accused stresses
nowhere within his hearing was the deceased spoken about by P.W.4 and
says he does not know how deceased met his death and that in any case
he is not accountable for it.
has been made of the fact that the first spot in the donga accords
with the description given by the Crown witnesses. The
however appeared to
the arched curve on the edge probably because of and plumping down
the soil falling off and plumping down from the bank
due to erosion
as was suggested by further cracks about a foot from the edge of the
emphasised that he never had a quarrel with deceased.
cross-examination accused stated that in going round and round at
Khubetsoana it did not appear as if deceased who was directing
had lost direction. It would also appear that the party at deceased's
shebeen left that place at 5.00 a.m. It would also appear
deceased and accused left 'Mamahlelebe's shebeen at about 6 a.m. in
the morning of March 30th 1985.
also revealed that Major Manamolela knew where he was during the
period when he was not on duty. This he informed her by
a Tuesday following the date of his disappearance i.e. 30th March
1985. He also mentioned to her that he was still
in Maseru hiding
himself. He said he refused to tell her where he was hiding. It is
again strange that a man in the position of
accused who has laid so
much stress on the importance of a junior
do what his senior commands him to do should be heard to say that he
refused to reveal his whereabouts when asked to reveal
same by his
staff officer Manamolela. However he explains that he suspected her
of being one of those hunting for him. He did not
find it wise to
hand himself over to the police even though he is one of them and
presumably knows as such that it is the wisest
thing to do when one
is in circumstances such as he was in.
he decided to surface at P.T.C. and risk capture at that area he
replied that he did so because there were recruits there
have seen him and he trusted them. He said he did not go to P.T.C.
for protection but rather so that police would find
him if it was
true they were looking for him.
said P.W.1 Sgt. Lerotholl was fabricating against him when he said
accused told him "I have removed someone from the
way and one
dog has died from a bullet" for which he is unable to account.
However he alluded to the occasions previous to
20th April 1985 when
P.W.1 and he had some tiffs.
impression I have formed of these so-called quarrels with P.W.1 is
that they were not of such a nature as to cause any enmity
them. Indeed during argument Mr. Pheko for the accused did not find
fault with the remark that regard being had to the
fact that accused
is a recruit this behaviour could well be expected by new comers from
old comers as a way of initiating the former
to the new community.
is fitting to observe at this stage that from the evidence that has
emerged accused desires to be
as a very solitary person leading a melancholic existence. He cuts a
very sombre picture of himself. He renounces the friendship
P.W.1 says exists between the two of them. He is suspicious of
P.W.4's overtures for friendship and says he is not on friendly
with P.W.4 because of the attitude P.W.4 has towards him as a result
of discordant relations between him and his wife. Needless
evidence shows he does not live together with his wife because of
disharmony existing between them. He does not admit the
obvious friendship that he is alleged to have had with the deceased.
On the morning of the fatal event he was denied
entry into his girl
friend's house, while later at 9 p.m. 'Mamahlelebe denied him entry
into the shebeen and could not even suffer
him to use her phone in
order to call a taxi instead referred him to go and wait outside for
the taxis. He does not want to disclose
anything regarding his
whereabouts to Major Manamolela despite the apparent good rapport
shown between him and her hence his insistence
that he would rather
be referred to her than sent to the Charge Office.
the three weeks of remaining in hiding he was keeping the gun and the
bullets with him. Asked why on parting with deceased
he did not give
back those bullets in the plastic bag he said he thought he forgot
because of the effects of the drinks he had
cross examination accused adopted an attitude of fencing with the
questions and not giving straight forward replies even when
adverse inference would necessarily follow from his replies.
reference to characteristic features by which he could recognise the
spot in the donga he replied "The donga there has a
kind of a
bend." "Are those characteristics confined to that spot,
aren't there similar ones up and below that spot -
? I have never
examined the donga" "You cannot exclude existence of
similar features up or below the spot - ? I am saying
I do not know
if there are any other similar features".
attempt to dissociate himself from the events connected with
deceased's death led him to making . inconsistent statements.
whether as far as he was concerned the highlight of his mission with
'Neko to the area around the donga at Ha Leqele was
the pointing out
of the place where picnics used to be held and the path that formerly
cut across the donga he replied - ? To my
knowledge the mission had
been accomplished". Having admitted that the whole mission
struck him as nonsensical however when
asked "Didn't you ask
'Neko why engage in this pointless exercise - ? he replied "According
to my police training I cannot
ask that." But soon thereafter
when asked "When you got to police office on return from the
spot at Ha Leqele, while
regarding yourself as innocent, did you ask
'Neko why you were being locked up - ? I had asked that at the
beginning and was given
no explanation" thus demonstrating that
to suit his convenience this code of conduct to which he makes it
appear he adheres
at all costs, can and was at times breached.
vehemently rejected any suggestion that he confided in Major
Manamolela yet he did not want her to fetch him from where he
been hiding, however to a question put by gentleman Lefu "Why
didn't you tell police
threats and that some police were involved in making them - ? I did
not know how to distinguish them." "You
though - ? Yes" "You did not tell her where you rang from
why - ? I did not trust her, I did not want
to get into trouble"
"You mean you could ring someone you do not trust about a thing
of this kind - ? I rang her in her
capacity as staff officer".
remains a matter for conjecture what difference this makes. i.e. the
capacity of a staff officer in the circumstances.
point illustrating the breach of so-called impregnable wall existing
between Seniors and juniors comes out in the following
appearing at page 142 of the manuscript.
" Did you ask any of the police to charge or release you - ? No"
"You were not bothered yet you regarded yourself
as innocent - ?
I was bothered hence I asked Letsie."
strains to create an impression that Major Manamolela did not know
where he was and he did not disclose to her this fact
conclusion to the contrary was not difficult to reach as appears from
page 16 of the earlier ruling, to wit, "Mr. Pheko
the fact that accused was denied an opportunity to be confronted with
Major Manamolela, who is among Seniors, alleged
to have known
accused's whereabouts during the three weeks' period of his alleged
disappearance should result in an adverse
inference being drawn
against the Crown for she would confirm accused's statement."
expressed no interest to know why deceased handed him the plastic
parcel containing bullets it took accused an indirect question
supply the reason that was required in the first place. This is borne
out in the following extract ad 144 of the manuscript
" Did deceased ask you to place bullets on you or on the vehicle
- ? I said he gave them to me in the house to keep because
suit had no pockets."
he give this reason now yet to an earlier question whether deceased's
trek suit had pockets he said he did not know.
also highly unlikely that deceased was wearing a trek suit in view of
the fact that when the body was identified it was still
clothes in which the deceased was seen dressed in by his wife on 29th
March 1985 see page 11 of the admitted P.E. record.
aspect of accused's story that is hard to believe relates to the two
strangers who informed him of the deceased's death
relating thereto. The strangers gave a description of the assassin
that fitted with accused in almost all details i.e.
ex-goal keeper of Rovers Football Club, fact that he is a policeman
who was last seen in the company of the deceased
and the fact that
the assassin was wearing a grey suit. Regard being had to the
probable time of the day i.e. about 7 a.m. at the
end of March and to
the fact that nowhere did accused indicate he had changed his
clothing, it would be strange that the strangers'
attention could not
be drawn to accused's clothing as the possible suspect.
heard arguments and received very valuable sets of heads of arguments
from both Counsel. As pointed out earlier I have already
evaluated Crown evidence in the ruling that was given at close of
overall impression I have of the Crown witnesses is as follows:-
Sgt. Lerotholi struck me as a truthful witness who was candid and had
no reason to fabricate about what accused told him.
I have already
indicated that reasons advanced by accused for this witness to
implicate him falsely are not acceptable.
Letsie was firm in his evidence but wasted time by not answering
questions direct. He behaved as if he entertained fears
question put to him was a trap or a mine field calculated to blow him
Matela struck me as truthful and having nothing to fabricate against
the accused. Accused himself did not inform him about
from work nor did he account to him about the extra bullets he had.
'Neko, as pointed out in the ruling earlier displayed no element of
hostility to the accused. He struck me as truthful
and I believe his
account of what accused said to him.
Polanka except to say independent evidence shows that he is the one
who fetched the body from the donga his position is
well covered in
the ruling I made
Common among them though was their forgetfulness
matters which could have been useful to the court. Non-use of a note
book is the bane of police investigating crime.
agreeing with Mr. Lenono's submission that accused manifests himself
as a consumate inventor of the most improbable stories,
hasten to refer to a Swaziland Appeal Court decision i.e. APP. No
21/85 Zunku vs The Queen (unreported) where Maisels J.P.
Devlin in Broahurst vs REX 1964 A.C. 441 at 457 said: " ----
Save in one respect, a case in which an accused
evidence is no different from one in which he gives no evidence at
all ........(if) on the
facts two inferences may be drawn about the accused's conduct or
state of mind, his untruthfulness is a factor which the
properly take into account as strengthening the inference of guilt."
common cause that the Crown's case rests on circumstantial evidence.
It is of importance in approaching such evidence that
its cogency is
determined by the cumulative effect of indepent items which point to
the same conclusion. See Harris Criminal Law
20th Ed. 457.
making such determination it is essential not to overlook the
objective facts which emanated from the evidence for they are
ultimately the ones which may shed light as to the guilt or otherwise
of the Accused.
and deceased were not enemies. Indeed deceased as pointed out by Mr.
Pheko entrusted his safety in the hands of the accused
to drive his
car while he himself was too drunk to do so.
two were in each other's company drinking beer.
the two were last seen nothing shows there was any animosity between
cause of death is said to be subdural haemorrhage but as to the
objective findings determined on independent medical evidence
is nothing to go by except hearsay evidence, to wit, "Deceased
is said to have been shot dead on the 30th March 1985".
nature of the evidence being circumstantial this does not cast
any light as to who shot the deceased dead.
does not seem to be any motive why accused could have killed
deceased because even granting that he said that he quarrelled
deceased at Agricultural College nothing was advanced as to the
probable cause of such quarrel.
should also be taken of the fact that evidence revealed that none of
the police gave a charge to the accused. It was also
a matter that
caused the Court great concern that it was not known who was the
investigating officer in this case: for as shown
ad page 14 of my
ruling it was pointed out that " As effectively shown, both in
cross-examination and during addresses,
there were some appalling
inconsistencies and strange features in the conduct of police
investigation of this case. I use
the word 'investigation* guardedly
because none came forward saying he either was an investigator of
this case nor that he knew
who was except W/O Polanka whose evidence
has been ....... found to be worthless in this regard."
evidence has been adduced to support the version that the gun before
Court is the one which was used to kill the deceased.
has been adduced to show that any one of the bullets handed to
accused by Mokhele was used in the killing of the
matter is compounded by the fact that accused
when he surfaced had more bullets than he had been given. He gave an
explanation as to how he acquired them and there does not
seem to be
any basis for rejecting it. Another matter, if one can indulge
oneself some speculation, is why would not the accused
the "one shot that killed the deceased" and being possessed
of eight bullets more discard all the excess
of bullets save to
replace the fired one with one of those in order to maintain the
number that was issued to him by Mokhele in
the first place. To
return to the charge, there is no evidence adduced by the Crown to
deceased met his death nor the nature of the weapon for that matter.
said all this in evaluating the evidence I came to the conclusion
that accused indeed uttered the words "I have removed
from the way, one dog has died from the bullet" and the other
related words namely that "I parted with deceased
at this spot"
pointing at a place at Ha Leqele.
But it is
to be observed that while the fact that a person confesses his guilt
of the offence affords the strongest possible proof
nevertheless evidence of oral confession of guilt should be received
with great caution for as appears in The Law of Evidence
Africa by Scoble 3rd Ed. 250.
....... the statements, although actually made as deposed to, may be
false, for the prisoner, appressed by the calamity of
may be induced by motives of hope or fear to make an untrue
confession, and the same result may have arisen from
ambition to obtain an
notoriety ..... or from anxiety to screen ....... a comrade..........
or it may even be the result of the delusion of an
had spent not less than three weeks in hiding after he was last seen
in company of deceased no doubt he was anxious about
the calamity of
his situation. He had been straining at the leash to communicate with
Major Manamolela yet could not come out of
hiding and speak to her
face to face despite that he knew that she was the one who knew the
nature of his mission, for fear that
she might betray him. C.F. R vs
Mlambo 1957(4) S.A. 727 AD at 738 where Malan J.A. : said
" An accused's claim to the benefit of a doubt when it may be
said to exist must not derive from speculation but must rest
reasonable and solid foundation created either by positive evidence
or gathered from reasonable inferences which are not
with, or outweighed by, the proved facts of the case."
fact that the vehicle in which deceased was last seen travelling in
has disappeared cannot rule out a possibility that whoever
it away had to do with deceased's death. See Rex vs BLOM 1939 AD 188.
"The inference sought to be drawn must
be consistent with
all proved facts. If it is not, the inference cannot be drawn."
" The proved facts should be such that they exclude every
reasonable inference from them save the one sought to be drawn.
they do not exclude other reasonable inferences then there must be
doubt whether the inference sought to be drawn is correct."
highest water mark of the crown evidence is a strong indeed very
strong suspicion that the accused caused the death of the deceased.
find this suspicion well
and reasonable. But it amounts to no more than a suspicion.
is given a benefit of doubt, acquitted and discharged.
Crown : Mr. Lenono
Defence : Mr. Pheko
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