FRANCISTOWN: A 50-year-old former Botswana Defence Force (BDF) lance corporal was last week Wednesday slapped with a 20-year jail term for a single count of murder by Francistown High Court judge, Phadi Solomon.
Mogomotsi Mothuti escaped the death penalty (which is the maximum sentence for murder) by a whisker when the court found that there were extenuating circumstances that led to him committing the offence.
In addition, Solomon said that she considered what the accused said in mitigation through his attorney, Kgololesego Segabo. Mothuti’s sentence will be backdated from March 23 this year, the day he was found guilty of the murder. Mothuti brutally killed his wife and mother of his two children, Martha Mothuti when he stabbed her several times with a knife on the right side of her chest in November 2011.
The incident happened at Ikageleng ward in Selebi-Phikwe, where the couple resided. At the time, Mothuti was based in Selebi-Phikwe as a soldier.
When delivering the sentence before a lowly packed court, Solomon said she has taken into consideration that since committing the offence Mothuti has suffered trauma subjected to him by members of society and the family of the deceased who are still furious at him.
She added that the accused has two minor children (with the deceased) and has shown willingness to support them.
The judge added that Mothuti has suffered emotional harm as a result of being denied an opportunity to see his children owing to his differences with the deceased’s family (who are now custodians of the children).
“The accused is also a first offender and as a former BDF member he was a productive member of the society (prior to committing offence),” Solomon said.
However, Solomon said when committing the offence Mothuti exhibited sheer irresponsibility.
She explained that Mothuti brushed off several calls from various eyewitnesses to stop his cold-blooded behaviour and stabbed his wife several times with a knife until she died.
“Such conduct does not even portray you as a positive role model to your children,” Solomon said. “In sentencing you, the court has to look at the interest of the society and justice system. All the above have been balanced.”
Prosecutor, Carlos Diundu represented the State in the case while Segabo represented Mothuti. Segabo was not present in court as he had challenges fuelling his car at his base in Palapye.
At the time of sentencing, various filling stations around the country had been having supply challenges in recent days due in part to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. After sentencing a visibly remorseful Mothuti could be spotted chatting with a few well-wishers before prison officials took him away.
Members of the deceased’s family, who have often attended court proceedings since Mothuti was charged with murder, appeared to be devastated throughout the sentencing.
They nodded in disbelief when Solomon made pronouncements that the defendant is not a candidate for the death penalty.