MASERU – A 30-year-old Maseru man, Kepotsa Mbele, will spend the next 20 years behind bars after he was found guilty of murder by the High Court on Monday.
The prosecution told the court that Mbele killed Tsépo Molise by stabbing him with a knife on April 20 2004 at Ha-Hlajoane in Berea.
Mbele had told the court that he had acted in self-defence when he killed Molise an argument that was rejected by the court.
Delivering judgment on Monday High Court Judge Kelello Guni found Mbele guilty of murder and slapped him with a 20-year jail term.
Justice Guni said the sentence was imposed after considering that there were extenuating circumstances surrounding the murder of Molise.
“There are extenuating circumstances on behalf of the accused taking into account (the fact) that the deceased started the quarrel (which led to ) the death of the deceased,” said Justice Guni.
The judge however said the fact that Mbele chased Molise until he stabbed him several times on the back was not an act of self-defence or a reasonable reaction to provocation.
A post-mortem report submitted in court showed that Molise sustained five wounds as a result of the stabbing.
The report said Molise lost a lot of blood before his death.
“If the accused was indeed acting in self defence he should not have chased the deceased who was already running away. The accused also stabbed the deceased on his back several times when the deceased was already lying down.
“Surely the accused cannot say he was defending himself. How can someone defend himself from a person who is already lying helplessly on the ground?” said Justice Guni.
Justice Guni said the accused had committed a serious offence which merited a deterrent sentence.
“Taking someone’s life is a serious matter and if there is a law to deal with it such law should be enforced. Your sentence shall be 20 years imprisonment,” said the judge while passing sentence.
Speaking after the delivery of the judgment Molise’s father, Mohau Molise, said he was happy with the verdict.
“Taking into consideration how less sentences are imposed on murder convicts I think the court has imposed the most appropriate sentence,” said Molise.
He said he had not expected the court to impose a sentence beyond 13 years. Molise said the judiciary system tended to be lenient with people who are convicted for murder.
Molise said Monday’s judgment was not the end of the matter between his family and Mbele’s family.
“I am now looking forward to instituting civil proceedings against Mbele for the loss my family suffered as a result of the death of my son,” said Molise.
Molise said he would approach the courts to claim 10 cattle as compensation under the Sesotho custom known as “Ho tsosa hlooho ea mofu” which means “raising the deceased’s head”.