HIGH COURT OF LESOTHO
matter of :
by the Hon. Kr. Justice M.L. Lehohla on the 7th day of December,
accused is charged with the murder of Motebang Letlaka who died on
18th September, 1987 following knife wounds he sustained
Upper Thamae in the Maseru district.
view to shortening the proceedings the defence counsel admitted on
behalf of the accused the preparatory examination depositions
Letlaka P.W.5 Dr Sheila Lungelwa and P.W.9 Sgt. 'Neko.
accepted these admissions. The admitted depositions were accordingly
read into the recording
and incorporated into the instant proceedings. Exhibits "A"
- the post-mortem report - and "B" - the
parade form were also admitted.
D/Trooper Ramakeoane told the court that on 19th September 1987 he
had cause to go to Queen Elizabeth 11 hospital mortuary
where he saw
the body of the deceased. This witness saw that the body had the
following injuries to wit.
open wounds on the left hand side of the chest;
open wound on the upper left arm;
open wound on the left thigh and
in the left palm.
then proceeded to the scene with P.W.7 captain Sempe and Trooper
Koma. While there he saw blood on the ground next to what
used to be
then started looking for the accused but failed to find him that day
or the next. He ultimately found him on 21st September,
arrested him. He searched the accused and found a knife Ex."1"
on him. He questioned him about it and the accused
gave him an
explanation regarding this knife. P.W.10 then gave the accused the
usual caution whereupon the accused led P.W.10 to
residence at Upper Thamae where a pair of blue overalls bearing the
Maluti Mountain Breweries logo was found. This
"2" answered the description of the apparel worn by the
accused on the day of the event. The
had been given by P.W.4 'Mankutu who identified the overalls in the
presence of the accused at the Charge Office.
Captain Sempe in her evidence told the court that during the evening
of 18th September, 1987 when she was already asleep she
shouting her name. She identified the 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 found the deceased lying in a reclining
position upon a rubble of stones heaped there
by L.C.U. road
recognised the deceased as the boy who presently stayed with his
mother P.W.6 in P.W.7's yard.
deceased was rushed to the casualty section of the hospital where he
was certified dead shortly after arrival. Thereupon P.W.7
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.
I 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
have been foolish to
devote the remaining precious moments examining the wounds sustained
by the deceased at the scene instead
of forthwith taking him as she
did to a place where the deceased's life stood a good chance of being
Limo Selebeleng was at the time of the events employed as a security
guard at Peete Peete's bar now owned by one Mosiane.
His 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
name. He knew the
accused only facially. He usually saw the accused come to the bar and
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
bar to look for his mother. Permission was granted.
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.3 said
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 because
of his lack
of proper attention to what these children i.e. the deceased and
P.W.4 were drinking, P.W.3 is not correct in saying
drinking beer. In any event my observation of P.W.3 is that he is a
man of very low level of intelligence.
happened to have gone to an out-building near the gate after he had
signalled in the bar that it was closing time when he
deceased go out through the gate in the company of P.W.4.
later the accused went out through the gate following them.
time afterwards P.W.4 came back running towards the bar and made a
loud report to the deceased's mother. Following this
report 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
tried to raise him but the deceased slumped back still clutching at
his chest. The deceased gave a few kicks and collapsed.
Thabang Moseli a night-watchman staying some 15 paces away from the
scene also came near the scene but did not go beyond the
some five paces away from the scene. The scene is said t6 be 50 paces
away from Mosiane's bar. Thus it could be made
in 3 minutes in a
round trip at a fast pace. At a run it could even take shorter.
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
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
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.
women asked P.W.8 where the person who was
was. P.W.8 gave them the direction by throwing a stone at the scene
some ten paces beyond the fence.
that he had seen seemed to have been engaged in a fight. One of them
fell to the ground before the women arrived. The one
who was crying
only stopped crying when the other left taking the direction of
evidence of this witness carries the event just a stage further than
where P.W.4 leaves hers off.
testified that she and the deceased went looking for the deceased's
mother at Mosieane's bar. They found her and asked her
to go along
with them home. But she delayed and gave them a go ahead by letting
them carry her sling bag with them.
had gone some 30 yards beyond the gate they noticed that someone was
chasing after them and throwing stones at them. When
became hotter and hotter P.W.4 separated from the deceased and turned
into L.C.U. camp by jumping over or through the
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.
accused made much of what proved to be a totally imagined series of
events which occurred in the bar.
denied that the accused came and sat next to her in the bar. She
denied that he proposed love to her. She denied that the
given permission to the accused to propose love to P.W.4 on
consideration of beer offered by the accused to him. The
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 dancing and never
kept her company beyond two minutes.
accused said he had also kept company with the deceased and P.W.4
offering them drinks while they were thus seated. But credible
evidence shows that the deceased never sat down but was dancing
throughout that time except when given money to go along with P.W.4
to buy some fat cakes which they failed to get.
extent it is imperative to reject the accused's version as a mere
figment of his imagination.
accused's explanation of his encounter with the deceased is that he
was obstructing him when he was trying to speak with his
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 flanking him.
he was astonished when the two sneaked out of the bar making it
appear as though they were due to
leaving half-full glasses of beer bought for them by him. The
accused's contention that when the two left it was as though
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 suggest
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 from
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.
seem then that the accused has bent his mind on giving false evidence
in this Court.
the injuries he inflicted on the deceased he started off by saying he
remembered inflicting only one on the deceased's
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.
accused failed to say why he assaulted the deceased. The attempt he
made to raise self-defence is undermined by the number of
sustained on the deceased's chest any of which would not enable the
deceased to continue fighting after the first had been
extremely charitably to the accused that at any stage the deceased
threatened him physically.
accused further preferred to this Court a cock and bull story that
the knife he used was wrenched from the deceased's grasp.
from the fact that in lying as he did the accused strengthened an
inference of guilt his conduct after the event clearly showed
had killed the deceased without cause. Even though he must have
realised that he might have caused the deceased serious
never bothered to report to the police or the chief, that is,
assuming his assault on the deceased was based on self-defence.
was a clear attempt on his part to avoid the police. He avoided going
to stay at his ordinary and usual place of residence.
callousness is accentuated by the fact that he sought to make
the court believe that the injuries he had inflicted on
were of such a minor nature that it was no surprise that some days
later he saw the deceased walking around on his
own with a bandage
wound round his leg. Or according to him someone looking very much
like the deceased.
the accused's close acquaintance and drinking mate. He struck me as
impressive in his evidence. He had never had any quarrel
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 supported
material respects by that of P.W.4. 3
Needless to say he Mad had cause to implicate the accused falsely
moreso because he offered the accused beer to drink at
accused made a merit of the fact that he had earlier that day been
drinking large quantities of what he termed raw beer from
of his work at the Maluti Mountain Brewery. On the beck of that he
had also taken some two bottles - "quart size*-
of 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 seem drunk. There
was nothing peculiarly distinct about him from his usual self after
drinks. This it could safely be concluded
that even though 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.
clear from the concentration of the wounds on the deceased's upper
part of the chest on the left thereof that he was pinned
afforded no opportunity to escape. The accused's denial of this is
just a bizarre farce.
though P.W.4 did not know the accused before this incident she had
observed him sufficiently long in the bar and afterwards
accused chased after her wearing the same overalls that he had been
wearing in the bar that there can be no case of mistaken
Moreover the accused does not deny his encounter at the scene with
the deceased even though there was a strenuous
by the defence to discredit P.W.8 who picked up the threads of
evidence from immediately where P.W.4 left off.
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
the 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 a man he saw running
towards him is pertinent on the point raised by P.W.4.
circumstaness it seems to me that the holding of the identification
parade though in most cases a necessity was but in the
instant case a
mortem report shows that death was due to haemorrhage caused by
punctured heart and lung.
alone should suffice to make it plain that the accused's contention
that he saw the deceased walk about any time after these
been inflicted deserves contemptuous rejection for no how could
anybody thus injured and in mortal danger of his life
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
disregard for the need to preserve the life of a fellow being.
above the accused has failed to show any earthly reason why he killed
the deceased. The crown on the other hand has proved
guilt beyond doubt. He is accordingly convicted of the intentional
and unlawful killing of the deceased.
having been found to constitute extenuating circumstances, the
accused is sentenced to 16 years' imprisonment.
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