IN THE HIGH COURT
In the matter between:
v MOREAREA MOKHAHLANE
Delivered by the Hon. Sir Peter Allen on the 2nd day of
The accused, a building labourer aged 46 years, is
indicted on a charge of murdering one Mpho Letsie at Qalakheng in
District on 12 April 1986.
At the commencement of the trial the evidence of two
witnesses, given at the P.E., was admitted. This consisted of the
Dr. Konerding who examined the body of the deceased and
his post mortem report (exhibit'A'); and the testimony of Tsiu
aunt of the deceased, who identified the body to the
Apparently the accused and the deceased had previously
lived together as lovers for about four months until the deceased
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
property to her.
/On the day ...
On the day in question 'Matsotang left her home to go to
a cafe some distance away. She left the deceased at home selling
to customers. On the way to the cafe 'Matsotang passed a
bar belonging to one Mahoarama where she met the accused. She said
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
at that time.
The accused told her that he had heard that the deceased
was then in love with one Khits'ane (P.W. 3) and 'Matsotang replied
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
home where there were a number of people drinking beer. Among these
were two of the witnesses. They were Molahlehi Khits'ane (P.W.3).
25 years old builder's labourer,and Mochochonono Makoetlane (P.W.4) a
46 years old mechanic's assistant.
Khits'ane denied that he had had any sort of
relationship with the deceased. Both of these witnesses
described how they were
drinking at 'Matsotang's house at around
sunset when accused arrived there. Mochochonono (P.W.4) was in a
group of people who were
sitting singing traditional songs. The
deceased was moving about serving customers with beer.
The 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
/steel rod ...
steel rod wrapped inside his blue jacket. They said that
the accused walked over to the deceased and struck her with the rod
wrapped in his coat. Blood came out of her chest and she fell
down. The accused then left the house and went away.
'Matsotang then arrived home and they all looked for a
vehicle in which to take the deceased to hospital. The witnesses
the accused was not talking or acting like a drunken
person at the time.
The post mortem report indicates that the deceased was
stabbed through the heart so, presumably, she was dead before being
the hospital. The police carried out investigations and
searched for the accused, who apparently had gone to Maseru. Over a
later, on 19 May 1986,the accused was arrested at Qalakheng by
Detective Tpr. Letsoepa (P.W.1) with a chief. They entered the
home and he produced the sharpened steel rod (exhibit '1')
and handed it to the policeman, who described it as being commonly
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.
The accused elected to testify on oath in his defence.
He asserted that the deceased left him after three months because she
love with Khits'ane at the time of this incident.
On the day in question he met 'Matsotang on the way and
enquired about the deceased. 'Matsotang told him not to go to her
look for the deceased until she ('Matsotang) had returned
home. He denied that he was
carrying the steel rod at that time. He left 'Matsotang
and went to her home to see the deceased in spite of having been told
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
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 him.
On reaching 'Matsotang's home the accused saw Khits'ane
there and he told the deceased to come outside to talk with him. She
that 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
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
he turned round and saw what he described as the shadow of
a person think he meant the "silhouette"). He immediately
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
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
throw a brick at him but the other prevented him. He then stood for
three minutes watching the deceased standing and having a
conversation with Khits'ane before she collapsed.
When cross-examined the accused admitted that he stabbed
the deceased and caused her death. He persisted that he had used a
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
pushed him but claimed that he was in considerable pain and
provoked at the time.
/He said ...
He said 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
his possession at the time. He added that he lost the knife
The accused stated that he had trouble with his eyes and
could not see well. In fact his medical book showed he had immature
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
eyesight tended to be selective in that he only saw What he
wanted to see.
Khits'ane, in cross-examination, had completely denied
that he approached or pushed the accused,and Mochochonono (P.W.4)
he did not see it happen.
The accused was clearly lying when he said that he stood
for three minutes watching the deceased conversing with Khits'ane
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.
It is difficult to understand why the accused insisted
that he did not use the steel rod. All three witnesses who saw him on
that day described how he was carrying it wrapped in his jacket and
they clearly indentified the weapon.
Furthermore, the detective (P.W.1) who arrested him over
a month later said the accused handed the steel rod over to him as
used. There was no apparent reason for these four people
to lie about it since neither of the weapons is any less dangerous
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.
In the end it would make no difference anyway. Whether
the accused used a knife or the steel rod he agreed that he stabbed
to death with it and the consequences would be the same
for him and for the deceased. In his own words, "there was no
for killing the deceased." He was in no danger
himself at the time and it was not done in self-defence. Even if he
that would not amount to sufficient provocation so as to
justify the use of either weapon.
The main question is whether he killed her
intentionally. There is some evidence in support of that view. He was
seen carrying the
weapon partially concealed before he went to find
the deceased and when he enquired of P.W.2 about her whereabouts. He
the deceased to come outside. That could possibly be
because he did not want to stab her in front of those people. He was
her having left him and jealous because he believed she
had become the girl friend of Khits'ane, a much younger man than
In his 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.
/The fact ...
- 7 -
The fact that he may have been drinking would not excuse
his actions anyway.
I believe that he was upset over losing the deceased or,
at least, over the fact that she had some money of his, and it may
that he had been drinking. I do not consider that there is
sufficient evidence of premeditation or malice aforethought. The
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
to kill her.
However, whichever weapon he used, he clearly committed
an unlawful assault upon her with a dangerous weapon, which resulted
immediate death. In the accused's own words, there was no
justification for this. He should not have been carrying any weapon
all, especially if he had been out drinking. I agree with the
Assessors that the accused unlawfully caused the death of the
but without the intention to kill her.
Accordingly, the accused is acquitted on the indictment
of murder but, instead, he is convicted of the lesser offence of
P.A.P.J. ALLEN JUDGE
2nd September, 1987
Mr. Pitso for the Defence Mr. Mdhluli for the Crown
The accused is a first offender aged about 46 years and
old enough to know how to behave in his community. He may have been
and felt upset at losing the love of the deceased but that
did not justify his assaulting her let alone killing her. He behaved
a violent and disgraceful manner.
I take into account that the accused has been in custody
for over one year awaiting trial and I shall count that as a part of
punishment. He is sentenced to imprisonment for three years.
JUDGE 2nd September, 1987
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