HIGH COURT OF LESOTHO
Case No. 10/04 CR 190/2004
Order No. 1/04 In the District of Maseru
review came before me today, the 13th February 2004 in terms of
Section 66 (b) of the Subordinate Courts Act 1988.
accused was charged before the magistrate of first class powers of
stealing twelve (12) sheep. The charge as framed by the Public
the said accused is charged with contravening section 13 (b) (3) (a)
read with Section 13 of Act No.5 of 2003 of Stock
realize that from the reading of the charge, it is not clear what
section 13 (b) (3) (a) to be read with section 13 is.
I looked at
section 13 (b) of Act 4 of 2000 only to find that it relates to
tempering with bewys. The section has no (3) (a). It
would have made
sense if the charge was only made under section 13 (b) (3) (a) of Act
5 of 2003.
of Act 5 reads:-
Stock Theft Act 2000 (hereinafter referred to as 'the Principal Law'
means therefore that stock theft Act of 2000 as the Principal Law has
been amended in most parts by Act 5 of 2003.
charge was put to him, the accused pleaded guilty and after an
outline of facts a verdict of guilty as charged was returned.
accused was sentenced to M3000.00 or three years imprisonment of
which half was suspended for three years conditionally.
looking at the Act under which the accused was charged, it is clear
that the Act also prescribed the penalties under section
14 of the
Act (Stock Theft Act 2000). It reads thus:-
otherwise provided in this Act, a person who contravenes a provision
of this Act commits an offence and is liable to
-(a) in the case a
fine not less than M7000.00 and not
imprisonment for a term not less than three years and not exceeding
been told that the accused was a first offender, that means therefore
that section 14 (a) (i) is the relevant part when
it comes to
sentence. The proper section to have been read together with the
section under which the accused was charged is section
14 (a) (i).
anomaly of having drafted a defective charge can be cured by the
provisions of section 158 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence
1981, which reads:-
Whenever a charge in respect of any offence is defective for want of
the averment of any matter which is an essential ingredient
offence, the defect shall be cured by evidence at the trial in
respect of the offence proving the presence of such matter
should have been averred, unless the want of averment was brought to
court before judgment."
this matter is before me on automatic review I would still have
with any irregularities on the verdict if any. But because there are
no such irregularities, I am only going to deal with
Courts are there to interpret the law and give effect to such laws. I
do not therefore think that there is a cure for acting
statute. The penalty has been prescribed under the Act and acting
contrary to it would be a grave mistake.
sentence therefore is varied to read M7,000.00 or three years
magistrate will therefore have to call the accused before her and
explain to him the change in respect of the sentence.
Magistrate - Maseru Chief Magistrate O/C Police - Maseru O/C Prisons
Headquarters - Maseru
of Public Prosecutions
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