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Ex-soldier’s appeal dismissed

by Lesotho Times

MASERU — The Court of Appeal on Friday dismissed an appeal by a former soldier who killed his wife’s lover after he found the two in a compromising position at a local lodge.

Rethabile Mphahama was in July sentenced to eight years in jail by the High Court for the murder of Tanki Bulane, an officer with the Lesotho Mounted Police Service.

He then appealed to the Court of Appeal to have his conviction for murder altered to culpable homicide.

On Friday, Court of Appeal judge, Justice Charles Howie threw out the appeal ruling that Mphahama’s conviction by the High Court was fully justified.

The judge said Mphahama’s argument that he lost consciousness during the melee at the lodge was far-fetched.

He said the claim could be branded as so impossible it could not reasonably be true.

“This was not explained as defence when the applicant pleaded. It had no support from any expert. It was plainly a stratagem to evade inevitable questions as to the direction of aim and the intent with which the appellant fired,” Justice Howie

He added that the two closely placed wounds on the temple of the deceased testified to a deliberate attempt to cause harm.

“The only reasonable inference is that he shot to kill or with indifference as to whether death resulted,” Justice Howie said.

Mphahama was found guilty of murder with extenuating circumstances by the High Court in July.

The incident took place inside a room at a guest house in Maseru on January 10 last year.

The court heard that Mphahama found his wife in a compromising position with Bulane who was their neighbour at the Police Training College.

Mphahama was sentenced to eight years in jail by High Court judge Justice Tšeliso Monaphathi.

Mphahama told the Court of Appeal that he was provoked by Bulane and that he acted in self-defence.

Mphahama’s lawyer, Advocate Lepedi Molapo, argued that the verdict should have been one of culpable homicide and not murder.

Mphahama, who claimed to have blackened out at the time of the incident in the guest house room, fired several shots.

A postmortem report indicated that Bulane died of multiple organ injuries and severe blood loss.

Apart from a lacerated nose and a laceration on the back of the head the deceased had 22 gunshot wounds.

Mphahama told the court that when he found his wife and the deceased inside the room, his wife jumped to the far side of the bed with Bulane dashing for the door.

He said he tried to stop Bulane but he pushed him and closed the door. He also told the court that the deceased overpowered him and pushed him again resulting in him hitting his head against a cupboard.

They struggled and the deceased fell in the process, Mphahama submitted.

He added that Bulane pressed him down with his knee and in the struggle he saw the deceased coming towards him holding a piece of broken wood.

While still lying down, he said, he managed to rise and grab a pistol which was near a cupboard next to the bed.

Mphahama said Bulane hit his hand that was holding the pistol.

“I then pulled the trigger and started firing,” he told the court.

Dismissing Mphahama’s appeal, Judge Howie said: “Had the appellant taken the trial court into his confidence and laid some evidential foundation for the possibility that he shot to hurt but not to kill or the possibility that he did not even foresee death as possible, the position might have been otherwise.”

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