Rapist escapes hangman’s noose

AWEHangmansNooseBy Nat Molomo

MASERU — An HIV positive Likhoele man who raped his brother’s wife narrowly missed the hangman’s noose when the judge slapped him with 18-year-jail term.

He was not given the option to pay a fine.

“I sentence you to 18 years as a warning,” the court heard.

Section 31 of the Sexual Offences Act states, in part, that where a person is infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) at the time of the commission of the offence and the person had knowledge or reasonable suspicion of the infection he shall be liable to the death penalty.

Lehlohonolo Mokopu, 36, who is HIV positive, was sentenced by acting judge Justice Teboho Moiloa, after he was convicted by the Mafeteng magistrate’s court and referred to the High Court for sentence.

The court confirmed the conviction by the Mafeteng Magistrate’s Court.

The court heard that at the time when he committed the offence on September 25, 2012, the accused had been previously in jail on another offence of housebreaking.

When the court pointed out to him that he (the accused) did all these things knowing that he was HIV positive, he did not deny, but said he did not know why he did it.

When the court told him that the law says he should be sentenced to death, Mokopu panicked and pleaded: “I ask for forgiveness.”

The accused further told the court that he should be given a life sentence because he is a breadwinner, and promised the court he would not commit the offence again.

He was charged with contravening section 3 (2) of Sexual Offences Act N0.3 of 2000.

He had pleaded guilty and was committed to the High Court in accordance with section 31 of the Sexual Offences Act read with section 293 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act 1981.

The court heard that the complainant and her husband and the accused lived in a single roomed house, separated by a curtain.

The accused, who had just arrived from serving a sentence in prison, was housed by the couple.

On the night of September 25, last year, the complainant’s husband was on night duty, and she was left with the accused in the house.

“While she was asleep, the accused jumped into her bed without her consent,” the court heard.

The complainant easily recognised him as there was enough light and his face was not covered.

She cried for help as she had not consented to sexual intercourse.

After wrestling his brother’s wife, Mokopu ultimately raped her.

The woman managed to escape after she requested the accused to allow her to go to the toilet. When Mokopu agreed, she fled and met with her husband.

They reported the matter to Mafeteng police and were referred to Mafeteng police station for medical examination.

The accused was arrested at Tebang.

Mokopu knew he was HIV positive as he had undergone testing while he was in prison, and when he committed the offence, he did not use a condom.

On behalf of the crown Advocate Mosito Ts’oeunyane submitted that this is one of those serious cases in which the accused must be sentenced to death.

Defence lawyer Advocate Raboloetse Makara said he would consider grounds for review and appeal.


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