IN THE HIGH COURT OF LESOTHO In the Appeal of :
MASOETSA CHABELI Appellant
REASONS FOR JUDGMENT
Delivered by the Hon. Mr. Justice F.X. Rooney on the 9th day of June, 1980.
The appellant was charged with being in possession of :
3 sharpened metal rods a tomahawk
being dangerous weapons, contrary to Section 3(1) of the Dangerous Weapons Order (20 of 1970). He was convicted and fined R50 by the Mafeteng Subordinate Court on the 26th September, 1979. On the 25th May, this year I allowed this appeal and these are my reasons for so doing.
Section (3) (1) of the Order enacts that any person who is
in possession of a dangerous weapon, shall thereby be guilty of an offence, unless he is able to prove that such weapon is possessed by him for a lawful purpose."
A "dangerous weapon" means any of the objects mentioned in the schedule to the Order. In that schedule only knives of a certain design or length of blade are included. Sharpened metal rods must exceed a quarter of an inch in diameter and six inches in length. Tomahawks are not mentioned. It follows therefore that the charge as drafted did not disclose an offence, as it did not clearly describe the weapons so as to bring them within the definition of dangerous weapons.
2/ The evidence ......
- 2 -
The evidence adduced at the trial did not cure the defects in the charge. Although the weapons seized were exhibited there was no description of their character or dimensions which might have brought them within the terms of the Order.
The appellant was found guilty of being in possession of a spear, 3 sharpened metal rods and a tomahawk. Spears are defined as dangerous weapons in the Order, but, as the appellant was not charged with being in possession of a spear, he could not properly be found guilty of the offence on that account.
The appellant is entitled to a refund of the M50 fine paid, a return of his deposit of M4 paid on filing his appeal and a return of the weapons seized and declared forfeit to the Crown by the magistrate, provided that the weapons do not in fact fall within the provisions of the schedule to the Order or if they do that the appellant requires them for a lawful purpose. In this connection the only real difficulty is presented by the spear. It is a dangerous weapon and the appellant's explanation that he uses it for preventing
hail storms is not acceptable.
F.X. ROONEY JUDGE
9th June, 1980.
For Appellant : In Person For Respondent : Mr. Peete.
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