IN THE HIGH COURT OF LESOTHO
In the matter of :
V LINEO MOAHLOLI
J U D G M E N T
Delivered by the Hon. Mr. Justice M.L. Lehohla on the
19th day of 0ctober 1989.
The accused in this matter, is charged with the crime of
murder namely of her two months old child 'Matseleng Moahloli.
The accused tendered a plea of guilty to a lesser charge
of culpable homicide.
It appears that on the 12th January 1988, the accused
left her home taking her baby 'Matseleng purportedly to a clinic; and
from the outline of the crown case that this day was the
last one when the accused's mother saw the baby.
Following a report made in connection with the
disappearance of this baby, D/Trooper Ramakeoane set out and arrested
the accused on
the 14th of January 1988 and the accused led him to
Mohokare river on whose banks were foot-prints fitting the size of
feet. On that occasion some napkins and items of
linen in the shape of clothing were collected by Trooper Ramakeoane
who went with
the accused to his office.
It was during the interrogation that the accused was
subjected to that it was revealed that she had thrown her
child into the river which apparently was in flood at
the time. Attempts were made to locate the body hut it was not
a report that was received later it was set out by
investigators for the river once more and on the South African side
of the river
bank near Lesotho Flour Mills was found a dead body of
the deceased. The body was retrieved from the water. The medical
which tends to support the accused's version that she
strangled her baby shows that the body had no signs of having
I am told that the accused has no previous convictions
and that when she committed the offence she was of a tender age
and that because of the shame that she had brought to her
family it tended to show hostility towards her. But in my view this
a view shared only by herself, because I take it that the brothers
and the family were perfectly entitled to look with disapproval
her type of behaviour. Theirs was a natural reaction.
Regard also being had to the fact that she doesn't even
know who the father of the child was, it shows that she was a girl
However I have also taken into account the fact that she
is an illiterate. But it has often been said and repeatedly been
economic straits can never justify the taking away of
It has been illustrated in a number of cases including
where three men were stranded at sea in a boat and couldn't find
eat. In that case what they did was to get rid of one of
the men by killing him and feeding on his flesh. When they came to
shore where they felt that at last they had secured their
survival, they faced a murder trial and discovered that their effort
sea was not worth their while.
There is also a similar instance where some people who
were stranded at sea again, and the ship or the boat on
which they were travelling was in danger of capsizing
unless the weight in it was reduced, took out two or three men and
them into the Sea in order to secure their own survival.
Definitely the ship made it to the shore but they all faced a murder
and their effort was also found not worth their while at the
end of that trial. I am quoting these incidents only to illustrate
the point that econnomic straits however dire can never justify the
taking away of human life.
The child was as entitled to her independent life as you
yourself are entitled to your independent life.
Well I have taken into account that in your plea of
guilty, it shows that you are remorseful for what shameful thing you
and taking into account everything then, I feel that your
counsel has adequately addressed me on the desirability of a lenient
being imposed. I have also taken into account that you have
been in jail since your arrest in January 1988.
The least sentence I can impose in the circumstances
therefore is that of four years' imprisonment all of which is
suspended for three
years on condition that you be not convicted of
a crime involving violence to another committed during the period of
J U D G E. 19th October, 1989.
For Crown : Mr. Mokhobo For Defence : Mr.Mafisa.
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