THE HIGH COURT OF LESOTHO
In the matter of :
R E X
v MOKETE MOTENATENA
Delivered by the Hon. Kr. Justice M.L. Lehohla on the
7th day of December, 1990.
The accused is charged with the murder of Motebang
Letlaka who died on 18th September, 1987 following knife wounds he
at Upper Thamae in the Maseru district.
With a view to shortening the proceedings the defence
counsel admitted on behalf of the accused the preparatory examination
of the following witnesses:-
P.W.1 G Letlaka P.W.5 Dr Sheila Lungelwa and P.W.9
The crown accepted these admissions. The admitted
depositions were accordingly read into the recording
machine and incorporated into the instant proceedings.
Exhibits "A" - the post-mortem report - and "B" -
parade form were also admitted.
P.M.10 D/Trooper Ramakeoane told the court that on 19th
September 1987 he had cause to go to Queen Elizabeth 11 hospital
where he saw the body of the deceased. This witness saw that
the body had the following injuries to wit.
two open wounds on the left hand side of thechest;
an open wound on the upper left arm;
an open wound on the left thigh and
scratch in the left palm.
P.W.10 then proceeded to the scene with P.W.7 captain
Sempe and Trooper Koma. While there he saw blood on the ground next
used to be L.C.U.
P.W.10 then started looking for the accused but failed
to find him that day or the next. He ultimately found him on 21st
1987 and arrested him. He searched the accused and found a
knife Ex."1" on him. He questioned him about it and the
gave him an explanation regarding this knife. P.W.10 then
gave the accused the usual caution whereupon the accused led P.W.10
the accused's residence at Upper Thamae where a pair of blue
overalls bearing the Maluti Mountain Breweries logo was found. This
Exhibit "2" answered the description of the
apparel worn by the accused on the day of the event. The
description had been given by P.W.4 'Mankutu who
identified the overalls in the presence of the accused at the Charge
P.W.7 Captain Sempe in her evidence told the court
that during the evening of 18th September, 1987 when she
was already asleep she heard someone shouting her name. She
caller's voice as Moipone's. Following P.W.6 Moipone's
report P.W.7 took her vehicle and proceeded to the scene where she
deceased lying in a reclining position upon a rubble of
stones heaped there by L.C.U. road construction workers.
P.W.7 recognised the deceased as the boy who presently
stayed with his mother P.W.6 in P.W.7's yard.
The deceased was rushed to the casualty section of the
hospital where he was certified dead shortly after arrival. Thereupon
went to Upper Thamae police post to make a report. P.W.7 was
cross-examined about the deceased's clothing and the people she found
at the scene. My main concern however was whether when conveyed by
P.W.7 in her vehicle the deceased sustained any further injuries.
am satisfied that he did not. I am satisfied that because P.W.7 in
answer to the call about the deceased's imperilled life would
been foolish to devote the remaining precious moments examining the
wounds sustained by the deceased at the scene instead of
taking him as she did to a place where the deceased's life stood a
good chance of being saved.
P.W.3 Limo Selebeleng was at the time of the events
employed as a security guard at Peete Peete's bar now owned by one
thrust of his evidence was that he had seen the accused
at the bar on the day of the incident even though he did not know his
He knew the accused only facially. He usually saw the accused
come to the bar and drink.
Late in the evening of 18th September 1987 P.W.4
'Mankutu asked P.W.3 to grant the deceased, who was under age,
permission to come
into the bar to look for his mother. Permission
The deceased went to his mother. The mother P.W.6 gave
the deceased and P.W.4 who was known to P.W.3 something to drink.
P.W.4 and the deceased were drinking beer. However P.W.4
and P.W.6 deny this very vehemently. I have no doubt in my mind that
of his lack of proper attention to
what these children i.e. thedeceased and P.W.4 were drinking, P.W.3 is not correct in
saying they were drinking beer. In any event my observation of P.W.3
that he is a man of very low level of intelligence.
P.W.3 happened to have gone to an out-building near the
gate after he had signalled in the bar that it was closing time when
the deceased go out through the gate in the company of P.W.4.
A while later the accused went out through the gate
A short time afterwards P.W.4 came back running towards
the bar and made a loud report to the deceased's mother. Following
P.W.4 and a good number of those who were in the bar
including the deceased's mother hastened to the scene where they
found the deceased
fallen. P.W.3 saw blood in the chest area where
the deceased had clutched his hand.
P.W.3 tried to raise him but the deceased slumped back
still clutching at his chest. The deceased gave a few kicks and
P.W.8 Thabang Moseli a night-watchman staying some 15
paces away from the scene also came near the scene but did not go
fence lying some five paces away from the scene. The
scene is said t6 be 50 paces away from Mosiane's bar. Thus it could
in 3 minutes in a round trip at a fast pace. At a run it
could even take shorter.
In his evidence P.M.8 said he was on night duty at
L.C.U. on the night of the incident. He said he saw two people
approach the place
next to him at a run. They were chasing each
other. P.W.8 moved towards them but was kept away from them by a high
fence that surrounded
the L.C.U camp. However he saw one of the two
people get hold of the other just beyond a high heap of crushed
stones. Then the one
being held was crying and asking for forgiveness
from his pursuer.
Some women asked P.W.8 where the person who was
crying was. P.W.8 gave them the direction by throwing a
stone at the scene some ten paces beyond the fence.
The two that he had seen seemed to have been engaged in
a fight. One of them fell to the ground before the women arrived. The
who was crying only stopped crying when the other left taking the
direction of Mantalo's place.
The evidence of this witness carries the event just a
stage further than where P.W.4 leaves hers off.
P.M.4 testified that she and the deceased went looking
for the deceased's mother at Mosieane's bar. They found her and asked
go along with them home. But she delayed and gave them a go
ahead by letting them carry her sling bag with them.
When they had gone some 30 yards beyond the gate they
noticed that someone was chasing after them and throwing stones at
the pursuit became hotter and hotter P.W.4 separated from
the deceased and turned into L.C.U. camp by jumping over or through
fence. The accused proceeded hotly behind the deceased, caught up
with him and started assaulting him. P.W.4 immediately and hurriedly
retraced her steps to the bar and made her report to the deceased's
mother. The latter hastened to the scene in the company of many
others including P.W.3.
The accused made much of what proved to be a totally
imagined series of events which occurred in the bar.
P.W.4 denied that the accused came and sat next to her
in the bar. She denied that he proposed love to her. She denied that
had given permission to the accused to propose love to
P.W.4 on consideration of beer offered by the accused to him. The
said he had kept P.W.4's company for a long time in the bar.
But P.W.2 Thabiso Fosa who had kept the accused's company throughout
the period spent by the accused denied that. P.W.2 said the accused
approached P.W.4 who was sitting alone while the deceased was
and never kept her company beyond two minutes.
The accused said he had also kept company with the
deceased and P.W.4 offering them drinks while they were thus seated.
evidence shows that the deceased never sat down but was
dancing throughout that time except when given money to go along with
to buy some fat cakes which they failed to get.
To this extent it is imperative to reject the accused's
version as a mere figment of his imagination.
The accused's explanation of his encounter with the
deceased is that he was obstructing him when he was trying to speak
with his "imagined"
lover 'Mankutu. He said while he was
sitting with the two who had flanked him in the bar he could see that
they were laughing at
him behind his back. Reliable evidence shows
that there was never any occasion when the two got to sitting down
He said he was astonished when the two sneaked out of
the bar making it appear as though they were due to
return by leaving half-full glasses of beer bought for
them by him. The accused's contention that when the two left it was
they would return is flawed by the fact that the hand-bag
belonging to P.W.6 was carried by her son in a manner that did not
that he was concealing it. Hence the fact that P.W.3 saw it
at the gate when the two went past. This was before P.W.4 took it
the deceased and covered it under the coat she was wearing. The
accused also underrates the force of the evidence of P.W.6 who was
not secretly asking the deceased and P.W.4 to go ahead of her.
It would seem then that the accused has bent his mind on
giving false evidence in this Court.
Concerning the injuries he inflicted on the deceased he
started off by saying he remembered inflicting only one on the
thigh. He pretended that he did not recall inflicting any
of the chest wounds. Confronted with the fact that the absence of any
person at the scene during the interval spanning the time when he was
last seen assaulting the deceased and the time when those responding
to the alarm arrived his lie was even the more exposed.
The accused failed to say why he assaulted the deceased.
The attempt he made to raise self-defence is undermined by the number
wounds sustained on the deceased's chest any of which would not
enable the deceased to continue fighting after the first had been
assuming extremely charitably to the accused that at any
stage the deceased threatened him physically.
The accused further preferred to this Court a cock and
bull story that the knife he used was wrenched from the deceased's
Apart from the fact that in lying as he did the accused
strengthened an inference of guilt his conduct after the event
that he had killed the deceased without cause. Even
though he must have realised that he might have caused the deceased
injury he never bothered to report to the police or the
chief, that is, assuming his assault on the deceased was based on
There was a clear attempt on his part to avoid the
police. He avoided going to stay at his ordinary and usual place of
His callousness is accentuated by the fact that he
sought to make the court believe that the injuries he had inflicted
deceased were of such a minor nature that it was no surprise
that some days later he saw the deceased walking around on his own
a bandage wound round his leg. Or according to him someone
looking very much like the deceased.
P.W.2 is the accused's close acquaintance and drinking
mate. He struck me as impressive in his evidence. He had never had
with the accused, yet his version as to what occurred in
the bar is in sharp contrast with the accused's. P.W.2's evidence is
in all material respects by that of P.W.4. 3
and 6. Needless to say he Mad hadcause to implicate the accused falsely moreso because he
offered the accused beer to drink at the bar.
The accused made a merit of the fact that he had earlier
that day been drinking large quantities of what he termed raw beer
place of his work at the Maluti Mountain Brewery. On the
beck of that he had also taken some two bottles - "quart size*-
beer before proceeding to the bar where he invited P.W.2 to join
him in drinks. But from P.W.2's observation the accused did not
drunk. There was nothing peculiarly distinct about him from his usual
self after drinks. This it could safely be concluded that
the accused had taken drink he was not deprived of his faculties to
distinguish between right and wrong. Conversely he
was capable of
forming an intention to kill.
It is clear from the concentration of the wounds on the
deceased's upper part of the chest on the left thereof that he was
down and afforded no opportunity to escape. The accused's
denial of this is just a bizarre farce.
Even though P.W.4 did not know the accused before this
incident she had observed him sufficiently long in the bar and
the accused chased after her wearing the same
overalls that he had been wearing in the bar that there can be no
case of mistaken
identity. Moreover the accused does not deny his
encounter at the scene with the deceased even though there was a
attempt by the defence to discredit P.W.8 who picked up
the threads of evidence from immediately where P.W.4 left off.
But it should be borne in mind that P.W.4 'Mankutu
indicated that from the position where she had sought refuge she was
able' to see
that the accused who had by then felled the deceased had
pinned him to the ground and seemed to be hitting him repeatedly on
chest. The deceased was even then pleading for relief from the
accused's savage attack. The evidence of P.W.8 as to the pleas of
man he saw running towards him is pertinent on the point raised by
In the circumstaness it seems to me that the holding of
the identification parade though in most cases a necessity was but in
instant case a mere redundancy.
The post mortem report shows that death was due to
haemorrhage caused by punctured heart and lung.
This alone should suffice to make it plain that the
accused's contention that he saw the deceased walk about any time
injuries had been inflicted deserves contemptuous
rejection for no how could anybody thus injured and in mortal danger
of his life
walk. His wanton pursuit of the deceased for a
distance of no less than forty paces culminating in his killing him
for no apparent
reason is all the more damnable and revolting. It
derogates from any form of respect for human life and its
inviolability. It manifests
utter disregard for the need to preserve
the life of a fellow being.
As stated above the accused has failed to show any
earthly reason why he killed the deceased. The crown on the other
hand has proved
the accused's guilt beyond doubt. He is accordingly
convicted of the intentional and unlawful killing of the deceased.
My assessor agrees.
J U D G E 7th December, 1990.
Drink having been found to constitute extenuating
circumstances, the accused is sentenced to 16 years' imprisonment.
JUDGE. 7th December, 1990.
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