IN THE HIGH COURT OF LESOTHO In the matter
vs JEREMANE SELLO
Delivered by the Hon. Mr Justice M.L. Lehohla on the
14th day of
In place of a murder charge with which the accused stood
charged, he tendered a plea of guilty to Culpable Homicide. The
against him was to the effect that on or about 10th
August 1991 and at or near Ha Mosuoe in the Quthing district the
accused had wrongfully and unlawfully killed 'Masekabolane Sello
intent. The Crown accepted the plea tendered, and the Court endorsed
In a short summary of the evidence led before Court, it
would appear that the
2 accused -I mean to say in terms of the evidence led by
Jeremane Sello in the Court
below, who is the relative of the accused, he said that
while in bed at his house around late evening - (the accused) came to
house and knocked at the door, asked him to come out and while
outside the accused then explained to him that the
deceased had sustained injuries.
The two set out for the accused's place where they found
the deceased. The deceased was lying in bed and was blood soaked on
This witness took a towel and wrapped it around the
deceased's head in an attempt to stop the bleeding. This witness went
to indicate that other people did come, obviously to try and
help the deceased by conveying her to hospital in a vehicle, where
survived for a number of days. But she eventually died while
It was when a night vigil held at the deceased's home
was going on that the accused said something which appeared
astonishing to those
who were around; in that he asked for pardon
from both the Sello family and the Falatsa family for having, as it
was indicated, killed
3 It should be remembered that earlier when asked by PW1
what had happened
he had indicated that well, he found the deceased fallen
and he suggested that may be she had hit herself against something
Be that as it may the important thing is he repeated his
story on the burial date that he had killed the deceased and was
pardon from the two families (i.e. his own and the
deceased's maiden families). He went further, in fact, to make a
a magistrate. The confession was not translated.
I should at this very moment give a warning that
magistrates especially the ones who prepare the record for onward
the High Court should always ensure that the
confessions are translated. It is good that the confession is taken
in the language
in which the accused tendered it. It is also proper
that such confession is translated. So this task remains with the
What it implies is that the subordinate court should not
part with the record without having ensured that the confession has
translated. In his or her turn the Registrar upon receiving the
Preparatory Examination record from the subordinate court should
check and see if everything is in order including whether necessary
translations have been made. On discovering any omission in this
regard the Registrar should return the record for
4 attention and correction by the subordinate court that
delivered it to the High Court.
The confession was properly taken before the magistrate
Mr. B.S. Makaliana who gave the accused the preliminary and necessary
before taking the accused's confession down, and asked him
through a number of procedures to satisfy himself that the confession
was not prompted by any ulterior motive or undue pressure. But
nonetheless the accused did indicate, I would imagine, truthfully,
that when asked if he had made any confession previously he said,
"yes" he had made such. And asked if he was expecting
benefit or some such thing, he said "yes" he expected to be
saved in regard to the charge he was facing. I am quite
that there was nothing untoward in this. Of importance being that his
confession was free and voluntary.
Now as I stated earlier that the confession is in
Sesotho, I will read it in the language in which it was given.
"E ne e le Moqebelo khoeling eona ena le ha ke
timelloa ke letsatsi la khoeli, ke ne ke lutse le mosali oa ka
'me o ne a tahiloe. Ke ile ka leka ho mo
khalemela eaba eena o oa nthohaka a sa khaotse, ka teneha, eaba ke mo
otla ka feisi mahlahareng
oa lehlakore le letona, 'me a oa fatse. E
Use ha a phahama a thula lemati, a boela a oela fatse. A phahama ka
mo otla nape ka feisi
phatleng. A bula lemati a oela kantle setupung,
hlooho e shebile tlaase. Ka mo otla ka feisi hape likhopong
lehlakoreng le letsehali,
a thula k'hona ea ntlo
ka phatla a ba a oa fatse eaba o tsoa leqeba hona
phatleng. Eaba ke mo raha ka lieta likhopong le mpeng, ka mo kuka ka
mo isa katlung.
Ha a ka a Ha. Ka tsamaea ka ea bitsa Ramathinyane
Sello le Neo Sello, ka ba hlalosetsa hore ke se ke entse kotsi. Ka
ho ea batla koloi. Ha koloi e se e le teng re He ra
montsa ho mo tlisa sepetlele Quthing. 'Na le Neo re ne se re
ka lelapi la thaole.
Mofu o bolailoe ke 'na ka matsoho, empa e seng ka
morero. O hlokahetse sepetlele Quthing ka Moqebelo oa la 24 Phato
1991. Ha a ntse
a le Sepetlele ke ne ke ntse ke tla ho tla mohloela
letsatsi le leng le le leng.
"Ea tekeneloa ke Jeremane Sello polelo ena"
"It was on Saturday this month although I forget
the date of the month(date). 1 was sitting with my wife 'Masekabolane
and she was drunk. I tried to reprimand her but she insulted
I got fed up and hit her with a fist on the jaw region
of the right side. She fell to the ground and when she rose up she
door and fell to the ground again. She rose up I assaulted
her again with a fist on the forehead. She opened the door and fell
on the stoep head facing downwards. I hit her with a fist
again on the ribs on the left hand side, and she hit the corner of
house with her forehead, and even fell to the ground. She
sustained an injury on the forehead.
I then kicked her with booted feet on the ribs and
stomach. I took her inside the house. She did not cry.
I went to call Ramathinyane Sello and Neo Sello, I
explained to them that I have caused injury. I sent Ramathinyane to
look for the
vehicle. When the vehicle had arrived, we took her out,
to take her to Quthing hospital. I and Neo had already bandaged the
with a cloth and towel.
The deceased has been murdered by me with my bare hands,
but without intention. She died at Quthing hospital on Saturday the
I visited her everyday while she was still in hospital.
"Signed: JEREMANE SELLO"
6 The evidence of the doctor shows that the injuries
sustained were consistent
with use of both sharp and blunt instruments: a blow
with a stone for instance or a sharp object of which he gives no
further surmises that injuries could have resulted from
road traffic accident, or a fall from a height.
I am quite satisfied that booted feet fit in,
especially, well with the road accident analogy or a fall from a
height, but however
I am not satisfied that a sharp instrument has
got a role to play in this whole thing.
One thing that the court has observed here is that the
force used by the accused in order to reprimand his wife was
and excessive. It is true he says he was angry
because the wife had taunted him by insulting him, but nowhere does
the accused show
where he sustained any injury caused through the
of such insult.
So people should always be very careful what force they
use to respond to insult. The best one can do when insulted is just
"and you too", and if the other party becomes even
more aggressive in the use of such abusive language you've got to try
and meet her encounter by saying "and you too" "tu
quoque" or "so you
7 are". That way none of the combatants would
sustain any physical injury at all - none
leads to death direct.
I am satisfied however that the accused appeared
contrite not only here but even at the place where this sad episode
during the subsequent occasions when the events had just
occurred. In each and every one of these occasions he appeared very
and that is a matter to be taken by this Court in his
The Court has been told that he has four children who
are all dependent on him. The oldest being said to be twenty five
youngest is eighteen years old. That is also a factor to be
taken into account though one wonders why would a twenty-five year
be still dependent on the accused.
The Court takes into account also a serious factor of
retrenchment from the mines.
I would imagine that the accused has not had any
previous conviction because none has been brought to the Courts
attention. I would
conclude from that absence
8 that the accused has for his many many years in life
led a very clean life.
I also take note of the fact that the accused lived in
his state of contrition, anxiety and uncertainty for eight years i.e.
October 1991 when he awaited his fate before the courts of law
after the deceased's death to date.
The accused has got to, however, be warned that to lead
more or less perfect life in this world he must abstain from taking
I don't know whether he continues drinking and if he does so I
wonder what he would hope to achieve by that. He looks to me to be
still in a fit condition to remarry. I don't know whether there would
be any woman interested in him if he still drinks because it
when he is drunk he turns a woman into a live football by kicking her
The Court will be failing in its duty if having taken
all the various factors into account it would just let him go
as suggested by Mr Lebusa that suspended sentence
would meet the justice of this case.
In the circumstances the Court imposes a sentence of
imprisonment of which three(3) are suspended for three
years on condition that the
9 accused is not convicted of a crime of which use of
violence is an element committed
during the period of the suspension.
The sentence itself is postponed for two(2) years, that
is to say until the year 2001 to enable the accused if he is
avoiding serving the prison term, to pay (M2000-00) Two
Thousand Maluti payable from today until fully paid on or before 14th
September 2001. I realise as I have been told that you don't earn any
income but 1 can't just let you go scot-free.
My Assessors agree.
14th September 1999
For Crown : Miss Maqutu For Defence: Mr Lebusa
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