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Gantsi deathrow inmates dread hangman

MPHO MOKWAPE
Court Of Appeal PIC: MORERI SEJAKGOMO
Former Gantsi farmhands who were convicted in 2017 for brutally murdering their employer on Tuesday approached the Court of Appeal in a bid to dodge hangman.

The two deathrow inmates, Tshiamo Kgalalelo and Mmika Mpe, who have been sentenced to death and nearly 20 years on other charges for the 2014 incident appeared before the bench hoping to overturn their sentence on all charges including murder, abduction and arson. They were mainly challenging Lobatse High Court judge, Justice Abednego Tafa’s finding that there was no extenuating circumstances in the murder conviction, therefore declaring the pair to hang. Kgalalelo, 33, and Mpe, 29, were in 2017 found guilty and convicted of attacking their employer Reinette Vorster; stealing her Toyota Hilux valued at P300, 000; two cellphones and cash amounting to P11, 000.

The deceased former employer had been driving from her farm to Gantsi at the time of the attack. The two then murdered Vorster and burnt her inside the vehicle.   Appearing before the bench of Justices Lesetedi, Ian Kirby and Leatile Dambe first appellant Kgalalelo’s lawyer, Letlhogonolo Makgane said on the murder charge it was not premeditated and that his client never went out to murder the deceased. He explained that at the time of the offence, the pair only wanted to rob the deceased and that his client was still a youth. “Imprisonment will be an appropriate sentence as they never planned to murder the deceased, but just to rob her,” he argued.

Makgane also argued that there were issues of abuse that the pair endured at the hands of the deceased and that she was also never abducted as she went willingly with the pair. He said there was no evidence that Vorster was abducted.

Second appellant’s lawyer, Kgololesego Segabo, also concurred with Makgane that the pair endured abuse at the hands of the deceased while being paid peanuts and were verbally abused.  He explained that his client looked after many animals while

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getting merely P500 and that he only committed the offence as he took instruction from his co-convicted, as he was still young at the time. “The abuse was too much and I think the attack was a build-up from that element,” he said. Segabo also argued that on the abduction charge, the court relied on a statement that was treated as a confession when in actual fact it was not.

However, the bench spurned Makgane and Segabo’s arguments on reasons that the duo planned to murder and burn her. The bench argued that this was because they didn’t want her to spill the beans on the incident and that there was definitely an abduction as the court found out because they tied the deceased.

Also that the court had relied on strong evidence, one which was given by the appellant’s girlfriend that they were treated well at the farm and that they have never complained of any abuse. Meanwhile, at the backdrop of the case was that the pair following the attack and murder of Vorster in January 2014, Kgalalelo was arrested on February 3, 2014 at Vorster’s farm and Mpe, the day after in connection with a separate incident.

The judge had also sentenced the duo to 10 years for robbery, five years for theft of motor vehicle, three years for malicious damage to property and one year for abduction. The abduction and malicious damage to property sentences were to run concurrently, while the two years of the motor vehicle sentence ran concurrently with the robbery sentence.  Further the two had also been charged with sexual assault, but the court acquitted them of those charges due to insufficient evidence. Judgment was reserved for February 8, 2019.

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