Ex-soldier guilty of killing wife’s lover

MASERU — A former soldier who shot dead his wife’s lover after he found the two in a compromising position at a local lodge was yesterday found guilty of murder with extenuating circumstances by the High Court.
Rethabile Mphahama was found guilty of murder by Justice Tšeliso Monaphathi sitting with an assessor for killing his wife’s lover, Tanki Bulane, in January last year.
The incident took place at Molemo Guest House in Ha Tšosane on January 10, 2010.
Justice Monaphathi gave Mphahama until 1pm this afternoon to pay bail deposit of M2 000 pending mitigation on Monday.
He also ordered him to report to the judge’s registrar every day at 9.30am.
The court heard that Bulane and the accused’s wife regularly used to book at the guest house to the extent that receptionists there called him “Motsoala” or cousin.
Justice Monaphathi rejected Mphahama’s evidence that he had been provoked by the deceased and was only acting in self-defence when he shot him dead.
“The only possible truth is that the accused wanted the deceased dead. I find his evidence false beyond reasonable doubt,” the judge said.
“In my view a normal human being cannot continue to advance when he has been shot in the legs.”
Mphahama had told the court that on the fateful day he had followed his wife to the guest house after he saw her alighting from a taxi at Ha Tšosane.
He said despite phone calls to his wife, she kept walking until she reached the guest house.
Later he went into one of the rooms where he found his wife sitting on the lap of a naked man, who was later identified as Bulane.
Mphahama said Bulane had immediately jumped from the bed and rushed to him threatening to hit him with a wooden plank.
Mphahama told the court that after grappling with the deceased he loosened himself and grabbed a 9mm pistol that was on top of the cupboard and started shooting at Bulane.
He said he was provoked and all he remembered was that his wife grabbed the gun from him and gave it back to him when they were outside the room.
“The present case is different because the accused shot the deceased saying he was provoked and he was acting in self-defence against the deceased who was aiming at him with a plank,” Justice Monaphathi told the packed courtroom.
“The crown has to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt. Whether the accused had intention to kill is what the crown must prove,” Justice Monaphathi said.
“In this case as in others, the crown has argued that there is a manifestation of the accused’s intention to kill, and the crown says one has to observe the number of wounds inflicted on the deceased as manifestation of that intention to kill.”
The crown said the shooting showed that the accused did not aim to maim the deceased, but to kill him as he aimed at fatal and vulnerable parts of the body.
“The first bullet must have been sufficient to tame or frustrate the accused from advancing towards the accused, yet the accused continued to advance to the deceased even when he had fallen to the ground,” the judge said.
“This attack, which the accused said was imminent, is incredible and must fall off. I find this evidence false beyond reasonable doubt,” Justice Monaphathi said.
He said it cannot be said that the accused premeditated the murder but chances are he was keen to find out where his wife was going.
However, this did not prevent the court from concluding that he became angry when he was confronted by circumstances in the room.
“Certainly by starting to shoot at the deceased, the accused could not have been acting in self-defence. I agree with the crown that a harmless man was brutally butchered by the accused,” the judge said.
The police collected 15 bullet shells in the room and the postmortem showed that there were 22 entry and exit wounds on the body of the deceased.

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