IN THE HIGH COURT OF LESOTHO In the
matter of :-
Delivered by the Honourable Mr. Justice J.L. Kheola on
the 3rd day of August, 1987.
The accused appeared before a third class magistrate for
the district of Thaba-Tseka charged with the offence of contravening
section 16 (1) of the Stock Theft Proclamation No.80 of 1921 as
amended. The charge sheet alleged that upon or about the 25th April,
1987 and at or near Ha Mohlapiso cattle-post in the district of
Thaba-Tseka the accused was found in possession of seven cattle and
one horse and there were reasonable grounds for believing that he had
obtained such stock unlawfully and is unable to give a satisfactory
explanation of such possession. The accused pleaded guilty to the
charge and after the public prosecutor had given a summary of the
facts disclosed by the evidence, he was found guilty as charged and
committed to the High Court for sentence.
The facts of the case were that on the 25th April, 1987
Chief Mathealira Mohlapiso was returning from his cattle-post
by other people. When they were at Khubelu they met the
accused driving seven cattle and one horse. They became suspicious
saw such an old man driving the stock and they asked him
where he got the stock. The accused was unable to give them any
account of such possession inasmuch as he said he stole
the stock at Mohlapiso cattle-post. Chief Mathealira arrested the
and handed Him over to Thaba-Tseka police to Whom he repeated
his explanation that he had stolen the stock. Even before the trial
court and this Court the accused accepted the facts of the case as
outlined by the public prosecutor.
Iam convinced that the accused is guilty of contravening
section 16 (1) of the Stock Theft Proclamation No.80 of 1921, as
In mitigation of sentence the accused pleaded that the
Court be lenient because when he saw the stock there was nobody
he was tempted and decided to steal them. He has a
family and some livestock. Although his age was recorded as 85 years
on the charge
sheet my estimate was that he could be about 65 years
old. He is a first offender according to what the public prosecutor
trial court. However I must warn judicial officers not to
take the word of the public prosecutor that an accused person has no
convictions without producing any document especially where
the charge sheet clearly shows that the accused person's fingerprints
were never taken. It is the duty of the public prosecutor to ensure
at the earliest stage when the accused is brought to the court
remand that the accused's fingerprints have been taken and sent to
Bureau for comparison. I shall assume in favour of the
present accused that he has no previous convictions.
Having taken into account all the circumstances of the
case 1 am of the opinion that a custodial sentence is appropriate.
is sentenced to Eighteen (18) months' imprisonment.
J.L. KHEOLA JUDGE.
25th August, 1987.
For Crown - Mr. Mokhobo For Accused - In person.
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