20-year jail term for killing mother

MASERU — A 30-year-old man who killed his mother seven years ago will spend the next 20 years behind bars.

Chief Sekonyela was found guilty of killing his mother, ’Makatleho Sekonyela, on July 21, 2006 in Thabong, Qoaling, in Maseru.

High Court judge Justice Nthomeng Majara described the murder as “one of the most unfortunate cases in my career as a judge because not only was the murder committed by a man against his mother in the presence of her daughters, but also deprived children of their parent”.

“The court takes the sanctity of human life seriously and those who commit crimes must be punished to deter them from taking other people’s lives,” Justice Majara said while delivering sentence.

Sekonyela sat motionlessly as the sentence was being read out.

The court heard that Sekonyela had a dispute with his mother over the use of a vehicle.

On the fateful day, ’Makatleho, and one of her daughters and the driver, had just boarded a taxi to go to Ha ’Majane, about 20 kilometres from Maseru, where she ran a restaurant and a liquor business.

Sekonyela emerged from a nearby scrap-yard and fired three shots before running away.

Two days later Sekonyela, accompanied by his uncle, handed himself to the Pitso Ground police station where he was charged with murder.

A ballistic report indicated that ’Makatleho had several wounds which were consistent with the firearm which the accused handed in.

The ballistic report, according to the judgment, said bullet shells found on the scene appeared to have been fired from the weapon which Sekonyela had.

The defence did not dispute that Sekonyela was the one who shot his mother.

“What was suggested by the defence was that the accused did this because the deceased was the person responsible for the death of his father and brother, and that she had told the accused that he would suffer the same fate as the two,” Justice Majara said.

However, she noted that this argument was not strongly pursued by the defence.

The court concluded that Sekonyela had clearly intended to kill his mother.

It also ruled that the crown had proved its case beyond reasonable doubt.

In mitigation, Sekonyela’s lawyer, Advocate Letuka Molati asked the court to take into account that the accused was 22 years old at the time of the offence.

He said it was a fact that Sekonyela’s father and brother were killed under mysterious circumstances in 2005, and that their deaths could be attributed to the mother.

Molati said ’Makatleho had threatened Sekonyela saying he would suffer the same fate as his father and brother.

Advocate Thapelo Mokuku, on behalf of the crown, asked the court to take into account the interests of society, the nature of the offence and the interests of the accused.

He said after the deaths of Sekonyela’s father, elder brother and mother, his two sisters were left alone at the family home.

Mokuku urged the court to deliver a sentence that would fit the crime to deter those who may intend to commit similar crimes.

In passing sentence, Justice Majara said the manner in which Sekonyela shot his mother showed that he intended to kill her.

The judge said Sekonyela had not shown any evidence to prove that he was provoked except to state that his mother had threatened that he would suffer the same fate as his father and brother.

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