MASERU resident magistrate ‘Manapo Motebele this week slapped a Ha-Tšosane rapist with a 15-year jail sentence for raping a six-year old girl in 2016.
Resident Magistrate Motebele sentenced 58-year-old Lebone Mohale in the Children’s Court for the 13 May 2016 rape of a then six-year-old girl of Ha-Tšosane. The child is now nine years.
Ms Motebele said the sentence would send a clear message to other culprits and potential offenders.
She said sexual offences were rampant in the country. It was the duty of the Children’s Court to protect the rights and interests of children because of their vulnerability.
“Therefore, the court imposes a 15 years sentence and has to send a message which will serve as a lesson not only to the accused person and other culprits but also to potential offenders,” Ms Motebele said while delivering her judgement on Monday.
“The rape was not only detrimental and demeaning to the physical wellbeing of the child but also affects her psychologically and her future.”
Mr Mohale was found guilty of raping the minor child in a forest-covered donga in Ha-Tšosane, Maseru. According to the evidence led in court, the convict raped and left the minor child by herself in the same donga on 13 May 2016.
It was the state’s case that that the child was playing with her friends when Mr Mohale requested her to go and fetch his bird sling (seqha) from his home. The child’s parents and Mr Mohale are neighbours in the same village.
According to the prosecution, the houses can only be accessed by passing through the forest-covered donga. Therefore, both the child and the accused were to pass through the same donga for them to reach Mr Mohale’s house.
“While on the way, the accused took off his jacket, spread it on the ground and ordered the child to lie on it. He removed her panties…and raped her,” the court heard.
After raping the child, the accused dressed up and fled from the scene of the crime, leaving the child in the forest.
Witness, ‘Matšepo Letebele from the same village, told the court that she heard the child’s cries coming from the donga while she was on her way to town.
“I heard a child cry and when I looked what was happening, I saw her with legs astride and unable to walk,” Ms Letebele said.
Ms Letebele asked the child what had happened and she narrated her story. Ms Letebele then carried the child home as she could not walk.
Ms Letebele then informed other village women and the child’s maternal grandmother.
“The child explained to all of us that she was raped by the accused known otherwise as Nkamla,” she said. She added that the child positively identified the accused.
Before going to the graveyard where Mr Mohale was found on the same day, the child took the women to the shack owned by the accused, an indication that the child had positively identified him.
However, the women and the child failed to locate the convict at his shack and were told that he had accompanied other village men to the graveyard.
Ms Letebele said the child went on to describe the clothing the convict was wearing on the day. At the graveyard, they found Mr Mohale wearing the same clothes, fitting the colours described by the child.
In mitigation, Mr Mohale’s lawyer Adv Abel Masoabi said the convict was a first offender with a 13-year-old child whom he had to support because his wife is deceased.
Mr Mohale had early on denied the charge saying that on the day of the alleged incident he was not at the place where the child said he had raped her. He said that he was at the graveyard with other men digging a grave for the burial of another villager.