SA farmer’s life sentence upheld

court of appealBy Nat Molomo

MASERU — Mpomelelo Mbobo, a South African farmer who fatally shot four people and attempted to kill two others in a taxi at Morifi in Mohale’s Hoek in 2002 will serve a full life term after the Appeal Court overturned his appeal.

Mbobo, 69, was sentenced to life in prison on each of the four counts of murder and six years imprisonment on each of the two counts of attempted murder.

All the sentences will run concurrently.

Court of Appeal judge Justice Wilfred Thring ruled that the sentence given by the High Court was appropriate and the court did not misdirect itself in any way.

“This being so, there is no acceptable basis on which this court could interfere with it,” Judge Thring said in his judgment.

Justices Craig Howie and Ian Farlam concurred.

Mbobo was sentenced to life by Justice Lisebo Chaka-Makhoane in the High Court for fatally shooting four people at Morifi, Mohale’s Hoek, in 2002.

He killed Charles Mofo, ‘Malimakatso Mofo, Refiloe Molise and Seetsa Majara.

He was also convicted on two attempted murder charges for shooting at Khotso Lerotholi and Tšeliso Bolibe.

The offences took place on October 13, 2002.

Mbobo who shot the people as the taxi they were travelling in started driving off, claimed that the people from that area were always stealing from his farm and damaging his property.

The Court of Appeal noted in its judgment, amongst others, that it was unable to fault the High Court on identifying witnesses at an identification parade.

The court indicated that the evidence of the prosecution witnesses concerned read well and convincingly, while that of Mbobo did not.

The judge observed that Mbobo seems to have been an evasive witness who frequently pretended not to understand questions which he found awkward to answer.

The Court of Appeal indicated that the conviction of the Mbobo was sufficiently well-founded in the evidence and the appeal against his conviction could not succeed in the absence of any misdirection of the trial court.

When it comes to extenuating circumstances, Judge Thring said the trial court found that there were extenuating circumstances present in the form of thefts and damage to the property of the appellant which had been done on his farm.

The judgment of the Court of Appeal observed that the crimes of which the appellant is guilty are heinous.

The shooting, was premeditated and committed in cold blood.

The judge observed that the six victims were all strangers to the appellant, none of whom had ever done him any harm.

“He simply decided to avenge his losses by taking the lives of a number of innocent people who were going about their ordinary daily business,” Judge Thring said.

The judge said in sentencing the appellant the High Court took all the relevant factors into proper consideration and it did not misdirect itself.

The court dismissed the appeal against both conviction and sentence.

The evidence, which led to his conviction and sentence in the High Court was that around 10.00 am and noon on Sunday, October 13 2002 at Morifi, Mbobo approached a mini bus taxi loading passengers.

There were the driver, the conductor, and four passengers in it. As the taxi was driving off, a man who was later identified as the Mbobo approached it on foot.

He shouted for the taxi to stop as wished to board it.

He then drew a gun and shot six occupants of the taxi.

Four died while two survived.

 

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