IN THE HIGH COURT OF LESOTHO
In the matter of :
PAKI MAOELA Held at Quthing
J U D G M E N T
Delivered by the Hon. Mr. Justice M.L. Lehohla on the
16th day of August, 1990.
The accused pleaded not guilty to a charge of the
unlawful and intentional killing of one 'Malibakiso Maoela who died
on 25th November,
1988 at Matsaneng in the district of Mafeteng.
The court refused an application to admit in terms of
section 223(7) of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act 9 of 1981
mortem report of the doctor who examined the deceased. The
reason for the refusal was that grave doubts surrounded the question
whether the body examined was of the deceased in the instant case in
view of the fact that P.W.5 Kuse Maoela whose names appear in
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as the man who identified the deceased before him denied
both at P.E. and in this Court that he ever identified the deceased's
to any doctor around the time of its examination.
Consequently the crown recalled P.W.3 a 14 year old
daughter of the deceased who testified that before her mother's death
on the same day that she was stabbed by the accused
she was in good health. P.W.2 Daniel Rasebonang had testified before
that police who came to collect the deceased who was still
alive but only barely so then had taken some thirty minutes to arrive
at the scene. The deceased was taken to the hospital in Mokone's
vehicle. On account of the nearness of the hospital to the scene
deceased could not have taken more than twenty minutes to reach the
hospital where she was certified dead a short while after
examination. It should then be clear that the deceased did not
survive more than an hour after being stabbed.
Under cross examination following her recall P.W.3
testified that it was correct that her mother during a period in
excess of one
month had had her leg in plaster of Paris cast due to
an injury sustained when she fell into a donga when she slipped.
Giving clarification in response to a question posed by
the gentleman assessor on my left P.W.3 stated that the fall could
either in February or March 1988 while the stabbing
occurred in November of that year.
In submissions made at the closing addresses Mr. Pitsofor the defence held P.W.3's evidence in doubt because he
contended P.W.3 had said her mother had sustained an injury a month
the killing whereas later her answer tended to indicate that
the injury had occurred some 8 to 9 months before.
But the context in which P.W.3 was asked under
cross-examination entails neither a contradiction necessarily nor
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an attempt to fabricate. It went as follows:-
"Is it not true that for some month or so before
her death the deceased had fallen into a donga and plaster of Paris
had to be
It is true."
If the answer was "it is not true" in response
to the part of the question that suggested that the injury had
a month before the stabbing then the essence of the
question that she had sustained an injury to her leg before the
have falsely been denied and needlessly lost. Thus it
required the clarification that the gentleman assessor elicited from
In any event P.W.3's reply that when she died the
deceased's leg was no longer in plaster of Paris cast satisfies me
that she was
then in good state of health. Moreover the deceased who
was quite close to her daughter and usually revealed to her what
she had did not complain of any around the period
immediately surrounding or preceding her death. I take it therefore
that no other
cognisable cause than the one attested to by the eye
witnesses is accountable for the deceased's death.
In this state of events therefore the submission that
the cause of death has not been established is rejected.
Speaking generally it is not unknown in criminal cases
that even where the dead body has disappeared as in the case where it
overboard at sea and thus precluding possibility by
medical evidence to establish the cause of death the culprit has been
before court, tried and where appropriate convicted.
This should serve as a pointer that even although
medical evidence is helpful or even necessary for purposes of
establishing the cause
of death, its absence cannot per se render
a criminal trial foredoomed because as rightly pointed out by Mr.Mokhobo for the crown there is authority
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for the view that even though there is no medical
evidence as to the cause of death that does not preclude the court
an accused person of a homicide.
P.W.6 Police Woman Motsamai who attended the scene of
crime immediately on receiving a report regarding the assault on the
testified that on her examination of the deceased she saw
blood coming from a wound situated on the left side of the deceased's
P.W.I Detective Trooper Mpholo identified EX."1"
as the knife that the accused handed to him on 26-11-88 when the
came to report himself to P.W,1 at the Police Station.
P.W.5 Kuse Maoela the accused's father testified that he
is the one who undertook to send the accused to the police station as
accused was absent when the police came to P.W.5's place looking
for the accused who was living there.
The only other eye witness besides P.W.3 who testified
to these events is P.W.2 Daniel Rasebonang.
He told the court that on that fateful day he had
occasion to go to a restaurant surviving under the commercial name
He was drinking "Long Tom of Lion Lager and had
just downed a sixth can of the same stuff and was about ready to
buying a case of these "Long Tom" when a
young man came to him. He did not know this young man. The young
him by name.
P.W.2 who was surprised by the familiarity that the
young man showed to him asked if the young man knew him. This young
man was the
accused who in response said yes. The accused further
told P.W.2 that he knew P.W.2's children and explained that he stayed
house which is next door to P.W.2's.
P.W.2 then asked the accused to help him carry the case
"Long Toms" to P.W.2's home. The accused agreed.
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Along the way the two met a woman whom P.W.2 later knew
as the deceased.
P.W.2 heard the deceased say to the accused that the
accused is silly. The accused put the case down and aggressively
made for the
deceased. This event was later demonstrated before the
court which recorded it as follows:-
"Demonstration; a quick but gentle dropping of the
box on the ground followed by a brisk walk towards the (imagined)
P.W.2 stated that the deceased had by then had her back
towards the accused some 7 paces away. P.W.2 admonished the accused
the act as he feared that from the manner of his approach
towards the deceased the accused was going to attack her. The
heeded the admonition, turned back picked up the case and
proceeded with P.W.2 to the latter's home.
On arrival the accused asked P.W.2 for the brand of
cigarettes called 20 Peter Stuyvesant. P.W.2 sent a child to buy him
P.W.2 then told the accused that he was going to
Lelimo's cafe. The accused said he was going with him. When P.W.2
got inside the
cafe the accused had lagged some 15 paces behind him.
Then P.W.2 heard a noise outside. When P.W.2 marched outside to
curiosity he saw the accused chasing after the deceased.
P.W.2 came after the accused and reprimanded him. The accused came
P.W.2 proceeded to Albert's cafe which is 50 paces away
from Mokone Lelimo's cafe. P.W.2 was following the deceased who had
Albert's cafe. It is at this cafe that P.W.2 found the
deceased fallen and bleeding. He tried to help stop the bleeding but
unable to locate the wound from which the blood was spouting.
P.W.2 testified that as he was seeing the accused for
the first time on that day he would not tell if he was drunk
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But the accused never drank in his presence.
In cross-examination P.W.2 was told that the deceased
met him and the accused on their way to Mokone's cafe from P.W.2's
not on their way from Eighty-Eight restaurant to P.W.2's
home. Further that when he went towards the deceased the accused was
in an aggressive mood. P.W.2 denied these assertions and
buttressed his observation of the latter event by pointing out that
even called the accused back and the accused complied. The accused
does not deny that he heeded P.W.2's call to desist from approaching
P.W.2 testified that he was ignorant of the state of
relationships between the accused and the deceased for he was seeing
the first time that day. He did not know until subsequently
that they were even aunt and nephew.
He denied that apart from saying the accused was silly
the deceased further swore at the accused by the latter's parents'
parts. He said he would have heard if any such utterances
had been made by the deceased.
Indeed as later indicated by the accused the relative
positions the three of them were bearing towards each other make it
to accept that P.W.2 could not have heard words uttered by
the deceased apart from the fact that she said the accused was silly.
The accused showed that he and P.W.2 were walking abreast of each
other with P.W.2 just a font apart when the deceased who was 8
away uttered whatever words she did.
P.W.2 denied that because of drink he might have
forgotten that the deceased had sworn at the accused by his parents'
He branded as a lie the suggestion that he invited
the accused to go with him to Mokone's cafe.
He described as unfounded the suggestion that the
accused was going to beg for pardon from the deceased when
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he approached her for the aggressive manner created no
basis for any such suggestion.
Asked on what basis he could have gone back for the
pardon of someone he had not wronged the accused said the deceased
with him because he had not greeted her.
The accused did not say at what stage the deceased is
alleged to have said he did not greet her. But if he contends that
it was while
he was in P.W.2's company this version was never put to
P.W.2. It stands to reason therefore that the conclusion may
faulted that the version was never put because it was a
P.W.2 conceded that as he was indoors he did not see
the source of the second encounter between the accused and the
however denied that the accused did not chase the
It was put to P.W.2 that it was the deceased who
attacked the accused. In reply P.W.2 said when he appeared it was
when the accused
was chasing the deceased, P.W.3 now aged 14 stated
that she attends school and is doing standard 6 presently.
On the day in question she and her mother were just
arriving from Mafeteng when the accused approached them while they
to 'Mamolahlehi's home.
The accused touched the deceased on the chest and the
deceased warned him not to. The accused left her and went away.
P.W.3 afterwards went to Mokone's cafe leaving her
mother sitting next to a dam 50 yards away from Mokone's cafe.
P.W.3 found the accused at the cafe in the company of
P.W.2 whom she did not know. There was no shopkeeper in the cafe.
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While P.W.3 was in the cafe the accused said to her
'you, I want to kill your mother."
Thereafter P.W.3 proceeded to go outside intending to
report the accused's threats to her mother. But she met her mother
door and the mother asked P.W.3 why she was was waiting there.
P.W.3 told her that the shopkeeper was not in. It was at this stage
but just outside the door some 6 paces away that P.W.3 told her
mother about the accused's threats.
The accused came following after the deceased after she
asked him why he said he was going to kill her.
P.W.3 saw the accused thrust his hands into his pocket
whereupon the deceased asked "what are you doing Paki."
The accused drew a knife tore at the deceased's dress
with it and the deceased said "sorry sorry brother" and
tried to flee.
The accused said I want to kill you. Saying these words
the accused followed the deceased and stabbed her. The deceased ran
cafe at the door of which she fell and much blood flowed
from her wound.
P.W.3 did not know what became of the accused. P.W.3
identified Ex."l" as the knife used by the accused to stab
EX."1" is a knife with a white handle. Its
blade is very very sharp and has a mean looking thin sharp point.
blade is about four inches long.
P.W.3 denied that this knife was wrested from the
deceased's grasp by the accused during the fight when the accused was
by the deceased.
She denied the allegation that the accused did not say
he wanted to kill the deceased. She however said even though the
not uttered in an angry mood they frightened her because
of the manner in which the accused had just
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touched her mother's chest.
She said the accused was about a foot away from the
deceased when he drew the knife. However P.W.3 did not notice the
stage at which
the knife was unclasped.
It is somewhat strange that P.W.2 in whose presence the
threatening words were allegedly uttered made no reference to them.
P.W.2 said the accused remained outside the cafe when he
himself was in it. Only did P.W.2 move out when his attention was
to the noise outside. When he appeared he saw the accused
chasing the deceased.
P.W.2 and 3 corroborate each other regarding the chase
by the accused of the deceased.
However the accused in his evidence testified that it
was true that P.W.3 found him and P.W.2 in the cafe.
The accused's version is that on the day in question he
found P.W.2 at Eighty-Eight Restaurant. He and P.W.2 were already
house when they met the deceased who said the accused
was silly when they met her. She also swore at him by his parents'
parts. He was hurt by this. He tried to approach her but was
stopped by P.W.2 as he intended speaking to her. He and P.W.2
on their way to the cafe inside which they were found by
P.W.3 who said nothing to them and they to her.
He denied that he told P.W.3 that he wanted in assault
or kill her mother. He only said that P.W.3 should beg for pardon on
from her mother because the deceased had insulted him
alleging that it was because he did not greet her. However this was
to P.W.3. Then P.W.3 left leaving the accused in there.
There and then the deceased came in and started assaulting the
with a litter of cocacola bottle. However this was never put
to either P.W.2 or P.W.3, yet in C of A (CRI) 7 of 1989 NaroLefaso vs Rex (unreported) at 7 Schutz P. had this to say:
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need for the defence to put the salient parts of the defence case to
the relevant crown witnesses has been stressed by this
Court over and
over again. One reason for putting the defence version is to give the
crown witnesses a chance to counter it."
"From an accused person's point of view failure
reveal his version before he gives evidence leads to a natural
inference that he has concocted a version at the last minute, even
though such an inference should not always be drawn."
The accused proceeded to say the deceased while
assaulting him was saying he is silly like his father after whom he
She went outside and made a spectacle of herself
shouting and saying the accused should come outside the cafe so that
she could show
her that she was a girl from Maseru. The accused
obligingly came out and went to tell her she should not disgrace him
as she was
The accused said he noticed that the deceased was ready
to fight as she was holding a knife which was already unclasped. He
observed when he was a foot away that the deceased was holding a
When the deceased delivered a stabbing blow at him the
accused got hold of her hand and pulled the knife away and quickly
with it for he was also afraid of the knife.
said he stabbed her once with that knife. Under cross examination the
accused stated that he did not know how old he is. He denied
and P.W.2 met the deceased along their way from Eighty-Eight
Restaurant to P.W.2's home. He would not say why P.W.2 should
saying the accused even dropped the case of beer in order to approach
the deceased in the manner earlier described.
The accused said it surprised him that P.W.2 should only
have heard the deceased say he was silly and fail to hear when she
his parents' private parts. He said he didn't know why
P.W.2 should say the accused approached the deceased aggressively.
that he did
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He said he didn't know why P.W.2 felt he should stop
After denying that he had earlier said P.W.2 urged him
to go and beg for pardon from the deceased the machine was played
his unmistakeable voice contradicted him and only then did
he admit he had been correctly recorded as having said so.
Asked if therefore he had told his counsel that P.W.2
had urged him to ask for pardon from the deceased he said he did.
Asked if it was put to P.W.2 that he said accused should
go and ask for pardon he said it was. When told to desist, from
quickly countered his previous answer and said that he had
made a mistake.
He testified that he had gone to buy bubble gums from
Mnkone's cafe. But when he entered the shopkeeper P.W.4 went out.
"You remained in the shop when P.W.4 Makena went
I remained with another man I don't know.
What was he doing -? Drinking with P.W.4 Makena. Anybody
else in there -? Only two of them.
Who was Makena drinking with -? Moiloa."
Clearly from the above it should not be difficult to
realise that the accused is a facile liar. In one and the same
instance he says
he doesn't know with whom Makena was drinking and
yet he says the man is Moiloa. Thus showing he knew him, this being
by the fact that he said he
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speaking with this Moiloa in the cafe.
The accused said the only occasion he spoke to P.W.3 in
the cafe was when he asked her to go and ask for pardon for him from
He said there was no bad blood between him and P.W.3
and that no quarrel had occurred between them previously. He was
put to it to say why then P.W.3 could lie about him and say
he threatened to kill her mother while they were in Mokone's cafe.
merely contented himself with saying he was surprised at this.
The accused stated that if the question was ever put to
P.W.3 that her mother was the first to attack him with the coke
would have heard. Amazing to relate that even though this
would seem to constitute a vital aspect of the accused's defence in
case he however let it pass over in silence yet he sought to
make the court to believe that he was nob satisfied with the fact
his counsel omitted to put it on his behalf. When his attention
was drawn to the fact that if he felt while proceedings were going
in court unequal to the task of catching his counsel's eye in order
to let the latter approach him there in the box his opportunity
seemed in these proceedings not to have been lost since P.W.3 had
been recalled after an interval spanning about eight hours. At
juncture the accused was clearly in a cleft stick yet in Phaloanevs Rex 1981(2) LL R at 246 Maisels P. as he then was
"It is generally accepted that the function of
counsel is to put the defence case to the crown witnesses, not only
to avoid the
suspicion that the defence is fabricating, but to
provide the witnesses with the opportunity of denying or
case for the accused Moreover, even making allowances
for certain latitude that may be afforded in criminal cases for a
put the defence case to the crown witnesses, it is
important for the defence to put its case to the prosecution
witnesses as the
trial court is entitled to see and hear the reaction
of the witness to every important allegation."
It seems to me palpably false that if counsel for the
accused had been briefed by the accused on this aspect of the matter
have failed to put it to the crown witnesses.
Furthermore the accused having heard P.W.6 give evidence
from the start to finish, even though he realised that at the time he
to make his statement it was before P.W.6 that he did so and
further that P.W.6 saw the injury that he sustained on his mouth from
the alleged bottle blow deli-vered by the deceased, failed to have
this question put to P.W.6 and thus denied the court the opportunity
to observe the reaction of P.W.6 to this important allegation which
could either have been confirmed or denied.
The accused stated that he did not chase after the
deceased and emphatically said P.W.2 who said he saw him do so when
was lying and should not be believed because he never got
outside the cafe at all. But it was never put to P.W.2 that he
got out of the cafe at all. This is a matter that this Court
heard for the first time when the accused was giving evidence under
cross examination yet in Lefaso above at 8 Schutz P. stated
that another reason for putting the defence version is that
"crown counsel is entitled to assume that a fact is
not in issue if it has been deposed to and is not challenged. There
call on the prosecuting counsel to call further witnesses to
prove a fact which is not in issue."
Yet the accused said he stabbed the deceased on the
right side of the chest and urged that P.W.6 who said the injury was
on the left
side of the chest should be disbelieved even though her
version which was clearly in conflict with his was let go
In the same vein in Small vs Smith 1954(3) SA 434
Classen J. pointed out that
"It is grossly unfair and improper to let a
witness's evidence go unchallenged in cross examination and
afterwards argue that
he must be disbelieved."
With regard to the evidence of P.W.3 vis a vis the
actions of the accused on that day I find the words of Schutz P.
in C of A (CRI) No.3 of 1984 Thebe vs Rex
(unreported) at 20 where the learned President said:-
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"To my mind the evidence should be accepted as
true. It is very difficult to believe that the witness would have
story against his own cousin to whom he bore no
The accused's narration of how he approached the
deceased who had raised a knife as he observed this some distance
away was a pathetic
attempt at wiggling out of a difficult situation
created by himself for he later said he only observed the knife in
hand when the latter suddenly raised it to stab him
when he was barely a foot away from her as he was responding to her
call to come
and be shown that she is a girl from Maseru. This
sudden change from the fact that he had observed the knife as he
the fact that he only observed it when raised and ready
to stab him is difficult to comprehend. However it seems that in his
of the defence as he is getting along he wishes to improve
his tale because in a clear contradiction of his earlier statement
he saw the knife raised as he approached the deceased who was
some distance away he later sought to show that he failed to see this
knife well in advance because the deceased had concealed it in her
Given the atmosphere that the accused himself created of
a furious woman who was boasting about being a girl from Maseru and
on a war path it becomes difficult to accept the story
that she was folding her arms as she was doing so. It is said she
only a jersey on her upper body thus her arms were not
covered under a blanket.
In Broadhurst vs Rex (1964) A C 441 at 457 Lord
"Save in one respect, a case in which an accused
gives untruthful evidence is not different from one in which
he gives no evidence at all But if on the
proved facts two inferences may be drawn about the
accused's conduct or state of mind, his untruthfulness is a factor
which the jury
can properly take into account as strengthening the
inference of guilt..."
Implicit in the accused's answers that he did not know
why his counsel did not put his version to the prosecution witnesses
attempt to cast a blame on his counsel for the fabrications
produced at the last minute from the accused's own mind. I cannot
that his counsel is to blame for this.
I have already dealt with the question relating to the
advantage afforded by the availability of medical evidence to
cause of death. But in Rex vs Fred Tekane
1980(2) L L R at 342 support is given to the view
"that it is not encumbent upon the crown to prove
scientific cause of death provided ...it is able to prove that the
resulted in death was perpetrated by the accused."
In R vs Adams 1957 CR. R.R. 365 in his charge to
the jury Devlin J. as he then was said
"Cause means nothing philosophical or technical or
scientific. It means what you twelve men and women sitting as a jury
the jury box would regard in a common sense way as the cause."
Adopting the same attitude Cotran J. as he then was inThabo Tsomela vs Rex 1974-75 LL.R at 99 said
"I am unable to subscribe to the view that a court
of law is precluded from coming to a conclusion about the cause of
reason only that no medical evidence was available, or if
available was not satisfactory or not (scientifically) conclusive."
With regard to the two opposing versions namely that of
the crown and that of the accused it would be beneficial to adopt the
favoured by Tebbutt J.in S. vs Jaffer 1988(2) SA 84
at 88 et seq that
"The story may be so improbable that it cannot
reasonably be true. It is not, however, the correct approach in a
up the State's version, , against the
version of the accused and then to accept or reject one
or the other on the probabilities."
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In S. vs Munyai 1986(4) SA 712 at 715 arguing in
the same vein Van der Spuy said
"There is no room for balancing the two versions,
i.e. the State's case against the accused's case and to act on
At 716 Van der Spuy went on to say
"The fact that the court looks at the probabilities
of a case to determine whether an accused's version is reasonably
true is something which is permissible. If on all the
probabilities the version made by the accused is so improbable that
be supposed to be the truth, then it is inherently false
and should be rejected."
In S. vs Kubeka 1982(1) SA 534 at 537 Slomowitz
said in regard to an accused's version
"Whether I subjectively disbelieve him is, however,
not the test. I need not even reject the State case in order to
I am bound to acquit him if there exists a reasonable
possibility that his evidence may be true. Such is the nature of the
on the State."
As Van der Spuy put it at 715
"In other words, even if the State case stood as a
completely acceptable and unshaken edifice, a court must investigate
case with a view to discerning whether it is demonstrably
false or inherently so improbable as to be rejected as false."
The favoured course was adopted in S. vs Singh1975(1) SA 277 where it was said that the proper approach was for
the court to apply its mind not only to the merits and demerits
the State and the defence witnesses, but also to the probabilities of
"This was to ascertain if the accused's version was
so improbable as not reasonably to be true. This however, did not
departure from the test laid down in R vs Difford 1937
AD 370 at 373 that even if an accused's explanation be improbable,
the court is not entitled to convict unless it is satisfied
that the explanation is improbable but that beyond any reasonable
doubt it is false. If there is any reasonable possibility
explanation being true, then he is entitled to his acquittal."
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I have had close consideration of the foregoing in
conjunction with the facts presented before me in this case and am of
opinion that the accused's version is not only inherently
improbable but beyond all doubt false. Thus it cannot be possibly
true. It is thus rejected on that score.
The accused was aware that he was wielding a dangerous
weapon. He ought as a reasonable man in the circumstances, to have
that when thrust into the deceased's body it might cause
injury or even death.
There is no room for the application of the Homicide
(amendment) Proclamation 42 of 1959 even granting that the accused
at his first encounter with the deceased by the latter's
remark that he was silly. However a lot of time passed in between
and the second encounter such that his passion had cooled down.
There is no room for a plea of self-defence because the
accused had disarmed his victim when he stabbed her.
He is accordingly found guilty of murder as charged. My
J U D G E. 16th August, 1990.
JUDGMENT ON EXTENUATION
Counsel for the accused addressed the Court in
The thrust of the accused's plea in this regard is
His counsel asked the Court to take into account that
although the element of provocation could not be relied upon in the
because of its remoteness at that stage to the criminal
act, yet for purposes of extenuation that element cannot be discarded
equally too remote.
He further urged the Court to consider the fact that the
effective cause of death did not derive from the state of criminal
referred to as dolus directus but rather from the one
known as dolus eventualis.
He finally submitted that even though the accused's age
is unknown he is a young man.
The Court's view is that even though taken individually
none of these factors can help reduce the accused's blame-worthiness,
their cummulative effect suffices to ground a conclusion that
extenuating circumstances exist in the instant case. The Court
is persuaded that the extenuating circumstances do in fact
In an effort to determine the accused's age his counsel
consulted his father who was sitting in Court.
Mr. Pitso subsequently informed the Court that the
accused is aged 19. I have already stated that this factor
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alone could not reduce the accused's moral
blameworthiness. In this regard I am fortified by the minority
decision by the Appeal Court
President in C. of A.(CRI) Thebe vs
The fact that the ultimte sentence has been averted
should be as far as the accused's luck can go and no further.
The heartless manner in which the deceased was
slaughtered in full view of her then 12 year old
daughter and the fact that no apparent reason justified the accused's
on a defenceless female should suffice to indicate the
Court's attitude towards the accused's conduct.
He is accordingly sentenced to 19 years' imprisonment.
My assessors agree.
JUDGE 16th August, 1990
For Crown : Mr. Mokhobo For Defence: Mr. Pitso
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