IN THE HIGH COURT OF LESOTHO In the
matter of :
TSELISO MATHABO BURE CHAO
Delivered by the Hon. Mr. Justice M.L. Lehohla on the
25th day of September, 1989.
The accused appeared before the Subordinate Court,
Maseru charged with theft of sixteen goats and nine sheep.
He pleaded guilty and was accordingly convicted as
In a well thought out judgment the learned magistrate
pointed out that owing to the long career in stock theft embarked on
accused from 1969 to date, it is fitting that the accused be
committed for sentence to the High Court. Very properly the learned
magistrate disregarded the first two previous convictions as they
related to offences committed more than ten years before the instant
one which was committed in March 1987.
The accused is now aged forty six.
During the period of his wanton enterprise in stock
theft he was convicted seven times. Much of the time spanning this
interspersed with terms of imprisonment which he served.
They foot up to twelve years.
- 2 -
Quite clearly it seems to me that attempts at reforming
the accused are futile and come to nothing. The corollary of this is
the stock owning community are placed in constant fear of
being deprived of their hard earned and much valued possessions
the accused is out of the prison walls. As long as the
accused is at large they can't help being fidgety and anxious. But
is that they are entitled to peace of body and mind. They
deserve some permanent respite from unwarranted and menacing attitude
possession of their stock.
In R vs Swarts 1953(4) SA. 461 A.D. at B - C the
then Chief Justice of South Africa Mr. Justice Centlivres said :
"I do not wish it to be inferred that it (meaning
the indeterminate sentence) should never be imposed where an accused
previously been convicted before the Supreme Court or when he
has not previously been warned of the indeterminate sentence. Each
case must be decided on its own facts."
I entirely agree with this.
In a case similar to the instant one i.e. Cash
M. Dlamini and Another vs The King
(unreported and unnumbered) where the decision was delivered by
Isaacs J.A. in the Swaziland Court of Appeal; Maisels, P. in agreeing
with the main judgment said at p. 4:
"The facts in this present case really speak for
themselves. There is no doubt that the appellant has systematically
on a course of house-breaking, theft, and robbery. I can
almost say that this has been his business; and that business has to
I agree entirely that he should be declared a habitual criminal
and given the indeterminate sentence."
For my part I am constrained by the unawareness whether
sentences are periodically reviewed by any
- 3 -
authorities in this territory including, as desirable
for instance, the Committee for the Prerogative of Mercy among
my unawareness, it would be fitting to express the
hope that, if in fact sentences are periodically reviewed, there
should be a regular
review of sentences in all cases so that although
some convicts may have received indeterminate sentences after being
criminals their cases may receive reconsideration
from time to time.
Because of this constraint the accused may count himself
fortunate in that I propose to only warn him that once he has been
a habitual criminal, the prospects of which are more likely
than not, in the highly likely event that he is once more convicted
any criminal offence, he will serve an indeterminate sentence.
See sections 302 & 303 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence
For a man of his habits it does not matter to me that
all the stock he had stolen were recovered.
The accused is sentenced to seven years' imprisonment.
JUDGE. 25th September, 1989.
For Crown : Miss Moruthoane For Defence : In
African Law (AfricanLII)
Ghana Law (GhaLII)
Laws of South Africa (Legislation)
Lesotho Law (LesLII)
Liberian Law (LiberLII)
Malawian Law (MalawiLII)
Namibian Law (NamibLII)
Nigerian Law (NigeriaLII)
Sierra Leone Law (SierraLII)
South African Law (SAFLII)
Seychelles Law (SeyLII)
Swaziland Law (SwaziLII)
Tanzania Law (TanzLII)
Ugandan Law (ULII)
Zambian Law (ZamLII)
Zimbabwean Law (ZimLII)
Commonwealth Countries' Law
LII of India
United States Law