HIGH COURT OF LESOTHO
by the Honourable Acting Judge Mrs. Mahase On the 27th October 2005
accused appeared before this court facing a charge of murder.
alleged to have unlawfully and intentionally killed one Mathealira
Lenono. This is a summary trial.
accused tendered a plea of guilty to culpable homicide
accepted by Miss Maqutu who appeared on behalf of the crown.
accused was represented and defended by Mr. Lesuthu.
incident is alleged to have occurred on the 24th May 2001.
outline of facts is that on the day in question, the accused had gone
out to keep guard over his or his parental maize fields.
This he did
because he had realised that the said maize was being frequently
stolen from the field by some people.
As he was
lying there not too far from the fields, the accused saw the deceased
herein; Mathealira Lenono.
deceased was riding a bicycle which had a carrier infront. He was
travelling from the direction of the said maize fields towards
accused suspected that the deceased had just been from his
(accused's) maize fields to steal the maize.
to stop the deceased but the deceased fled away on his bicycle. The
accused gave chase after the deceased.
then threw his stick at the deceased thereby hitting the deceased at
the back of the head with it.
deceased fell down. The accused then took away the said bicycle which
he discovered contained some maize in its front carrier.
(accused) took this bicycle home to make a report about it and the
deceased. He left the deceased where he had fallen down unattended.
Accused never offered help of any kind to the fallen deceased.
deceased who died at that place wherein he had fallen had sustained a
head injury which resulted into a subdure haematoma. This
diagnosed as the cause of the deceased's death.
deceased was aged about 72 years of age when he was befallen by this
unfortunate, fatal incident. He never regained consciousness
where he had fallen. He died thereat; having received the fatal blow
from the accused.
accused was ultimately apprehended. Several witnesses had seen the
events leading to the deceased's death when they unfolded
a brief summary of the crown evidence which was accepted by the
accused was then found guilty of culpable homicide.
court is prepared to accept that the accused did not plan nor that he
premeditated the death of the deceased. The crown has
pointed out in its outline of the facts that the intension of the
accused was to incapacitate the deceased from running
away and that
accused intended to impound the bicycle of the deceased on which the
accused's maize had been loaded. I note however
that the accused
assaulted this elderly man using a stick and
it at the vulnerable part of one's body, namely the head. He however
had no requisite intention to murder the deceased.
accordingly found guilty of culpable homicide.
Maqutu for the crown informed the court that the accused had no
Lesuthu who appeared on behalf of the accused defending him had the
following to say in mitigation:
Accused is the first offender.
was on guard over his maize fields because some of accused's
villagers were stealing his maize.
the deceased was found carrying away in his bicycle the maize which
the accused had suspected to have been stolen from his
words he had caught the thief red handed and was provoked. To add to
this, the deceased tried to run away from the accused
accused stopped him.
accused left the deceased where the deceased had fallen down, the
accused was not aware that the deceased would die.
the accused has been in custody awaiting trial at Mohale's hoek
prison since or from June 2001, shortly after this incident
occurred. He remained thereat until very recently when he was moved
to Maseru Central Prison for his trial in the High Court.
applied that the court should take the period which the accused had
spend in jail awaiting trial into account in imposing sentence
him. That period is close to 4 (four) years.
reasons were advanced as to why the accused did not exercise his
right to apply for release on bail. Neither was it the defence
that the accused's bail application was refused.
passing sentence, the court has taken into account all that has been
said in mitigation of sentence on behalf of the accused
court is particularly concerned by the length of time which accused
has spent in jail awaiting trial. The question is whose
duty is it to
see to it that suspects incarcerated in our prisons do not become
forgotten factors and are left to rot in jail?
Was this a deliberate
act on the part of some people that no attention was ever paid to the
plight of the accused herein? I hope
of cases reflect and impacts very badly on our justice system. All
efforts should be made by all concerned in the justice
remedy this situation.
visits to prisons by district magistrates should be resuscitated so
that suspects awaiting trial do not become forgotten
said this, it is worth mentioning that a court of law should always
exercise caution and should not compromise the interests
when sentencing an accused person whose freedom has so much been
It is not
clear whether or not the accused herein did exercise his right to
apply for release on bail. Nobody would prevent him
from doing so.
law should also not loose sight of the fact that crimes such as this
one of which accused has been convicted are happening
at a high daily
rate. These are serious crimes.
has a right to deprive or take away another persons life.
the life of one human being by another is too serious a crime to be
lightly looked upon. It is for the courts of law to treat
with the seriousness they deserve.
which should serve as a deterrent factor to other people should be
imposed. Offenders should also be taught to value life
efforts made to help them repent and be successfully integrated back
instant case, the deceased was an old man aged 72 years, while the
accused is a young, energetic man who was aged 19 years
committed this crime.
therefore no way in which the deceased could have out run the
said this, this court is of the view that the appropriate sentence
which will meet the justice of this case is six (6) years
accused is accordingly sentenced to six (6) years imprisonment.
Sentence to run from June 2001.
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