IN THE HIGH COURT OF LESOTHO
In the Appeal of :
MICHAEL MOLEFE Appellant
REASONS FOR JUDGMENT
Filed by the Hon. Mr Justice F.X. Rooney
on the 6th day of October, 1982.
Appellant in Person
Mr. Khauoe for the Crown.
On the 10th April, 1981, the appellant and another
man, Lebohang Ntlaloe, were at the Holiday Inn Maseru.
They had in their possession 11 uncut diamonds. These
they sold for M2,500 to Lt. Bower (PW.1) of the
South African Police. Both men had walked into a trap
prepared for them in cooperation with the Lesotho
Mounted Police. It was a commendable effort and the two
accused were not induced or tempted to commit an offence
but, were fairly and properly dealt with.
On the 14th September, 1981, they appeared before
Mrs. Makoa charged with selling uncut diamonds in
contravention of section 6 (1)(b) of the Precious Stones
Order 1970. Both men pleaded not guilty, but, on the
15th January, 1982 they were convicted as charged. The
magistrate fined the appellant M100 or 6 months
imprisonment and Ntlaloe M150 or 10 months imprisonment.
The uncut diamonds were forfeited to the State.
The appellant gave notice of appeal and on the
17th March, I directed that the appeal be set down
for hearing and I further directed that the appellant
be informed in writing that he will be required to show
cause as to why (in the event of his appeal being
dismissed) his sentence should not be enhanced. The appellant
made no further effort to prosecute his appeal and on the
2nd August, I dismissed it on that account. However,
2/ I was not
I was not prepared to leave the matter in that
unsatisfactory state. I made arrangements that the
appellant and his companion Ntlaloe should appear before
the Court and show cause as to why their sentences should
not be increased.
It is provided by sec.6 (4) of the Precious Stones
Order that any person who contravenes the provisions
of sub-sec. (1) shall be guilty of an offence and
liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding M10,000
or imprisonment for a period not exceeding 15 years or
both such fine and such imprisonment. This is a clear
indication of how seriously the legislature views the
practice of dealing in uncut diamonds without authority.
Those who engage in this illegal trade seek to enrich
themselves at the expense of the economy as a whole.
It must have been disheartening for the police
officers who prepared the trap and arrested the two
accused to learn that the trial magistrate considered
the offence to be trivial in character and imposed
Both men appeared before this Court and the
matter was finally disposed of on the 15th September.
The appellant Molefe is a first offender. He is
married with children. He was formely a teacher but is
now running a small manufacturing business at Sebaboleng.
He purchased the uncut diamonds and lost them in the
trap. He paid his fine of M100.
I decided that in his case that justice demanded
that it be brought home to him that illegal schemes
to get rich quickly cannot be tolerated by the courts.
His fine was increased to M1,000 with a sentence of
6 months' imprisonment in default of payment. As he
is in business and others depend upon him, I made it
possible that he could pay the additional M900 at the
rate of M50 a month commencing on the 1st December, 1982.
I directed that payment should be made to the Registrar
of this Court.
3/ Although Ntlaloe
Although Ntlaloe did not appeal against his
conviction or sentence, this Court is entitled to
exercise its revisional powers to correct the inadequate
sentence imposed upon him in the court below. Although
the accused has not been in prison before this case, he
has a criminal record which includes a conviction in
1977 for unlawful dealing in diamonds for which he was
fined R100 or 5 months imprisonment in default. At
the same time he was convicted of the unlawful possession
of dagga and of a firearm. This gives the impression
that he is a man who does not have any great respect for
It is obvious that he came into this case because
Molefe sought him out as a person engaged in the illicit
diamond business who would be able (or so Molefe hoped)
to find a customer. It was unfortunate that Ntlaloe'a
customer turned out to be the police.
Ntlaloe's legitimate occupation is that of a
plasterer employed in the building trade. He said he
earns about M5 or M6 per day worked and his wife has a
job as a cleaner at the Hilton Hotel. After his
conviction in January Ntlaloe spent a month in prison
before he could arrange for the payment of his fine.
Although, I view with seriousness the part he played in
this matter, I was not inclined to send him back to
prison. But, he must realise for the future that
a considerable risk attaches to his illegal activities.
I made an order that in addition to the fine that he
paid Ntlaloe was sentenced to imprisonment for twelve
months which sentence was wholly suspended for three
years on the condition that he is not convicted of
any offence under the precious Stone Order 1970 committed
during the period of the suspension.
Attorney for the Crown Law Office.
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