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Ex-BCL miner escapes hangman’s noose

FRANCISTOWN: A former BCL Mine employee who murdered his girlfriend by stabbing her with a knife several times in front of their children recently escaped the hangman’s noose after the court ruled that there were extenuating circumstances in the matter.

The accused, Khumoetsile Mantswe, was convicted of murdering Masedi Tshime on December 30, 2016 at Lesenepole village in the Central District.

Mantswe was convicted on his own plea of guilt to the murder.

When delivering ruling on extenuation, Justice Bengbame Sechele said Mantswe left Selebi-Phikwe for Lesenepole on that fateful day using a car he had borrowed from one of his friends under the pretext that he was going to check on his two minor children sired with the deceased.

“On his way to Lesenepole, the accused stopped by SBN Hardware in Sefhophe and purchased an Okapi knife. Upon arrival at Lesenepole, he stopped at Brown’s Tuckshop, which is not far from the deceased parents’ homestead… At about 1600 hours (4pm), the deceased’s cell phone rang and she asked one Sebiletso Mosalagae to answer it and she told her that it was the deceased who was calling… The accused asked the deceased about her whereabouts but she told him that she was at some far away place. The deceased told one of her children to tell the accused that she did not have enough airtime and she then sent her children to go and buy airtime for her at Brown Moseki’s tuckshop. At the tuckshop, the children met their father,” Sechele said.

Sechele further said that upon arrival at the homestead, the children reported to the deceased that they had met the accused at the tuckshop but she however disputed that saying that the accused neither had vehicle to drive to Lesenepole nor could he visit without notifying her.

“Whilst the deceased and her relatives were busy debating what the children just said, they noticed a blue car parked by their neighbour’s yard but did not pay much attention to it. The accused then suddenly emerged from the back of the yard armed with a knife. He summoned the deceased to go to him. The deceased who no doubt perceived danger took to her heels and tried to flee. The accused however caught up with her and stabbed her with a knife several times,” the judge added.

The accused’s uncle, Mabeleng Mantswe, testified in extenuation that he was aware of the relationship between the accused and deceased.

“He was also aware of its troubled nature. Mabeleng said that at all material times, the accused was employed by BCL Mine but subsequently lost his employment when the mine went into liquidation. Mabeleng also said that the accused single-handedly financed the deceased tuition fee at Tonota College of Education (TCE) after her government sponsorship with Limkomkwing University was terminated. The witness also said that after the deceased graduated from TCE, she was employed as a teacher at Gobajango Junior School. He said that the relationship between the accused and deceased went on a downward spiral just about that time and the accused complained of the financial burden he had to carry in maintaining both his children and his late twin brother’s children,” Sechele said.

The accused’s financial position became even more dire, Sechele added, after his employment with BCL Mine was terminated.

“He brought an application before the Selebi-Phikwe Magistrate Court for contributory maintenance from the deceased, but despite an order having been issued against her, the deceased still failed to comply with it. The medical report that I earlier on alluded to, that was compiled by a BCL Mine social worker, gave a detailed narration of the steps he took in

counselling the accused into accepting the deceased’s decision to terminate their love relationship.

The accused was however unrelenting in his resolve to kill the deceased so as to send a message to all women out there who benefit from men and then abandon them.

The accused was still adamant in his resolve to harm the deceased despite measures suggested by the social welfare officer during various counselling sessions he attended,” the judge explained.

It was in view of the accused’s persistence and resolve in harming the deceased that the social welfare officer decided, without the consent of the accused, to report the matter to the police, said Sechele.

“He proceeded to hand over the accused to the police. An overnight detention could, the social welfare officer opined, help the accused to calm down and introspect. At a subsequent counselling session on June 8, 2016, the accused stated that he had introspected and that he now viewed the issues bedeviling his relationship with the deceased differently. He stated that he was now ready to move on with his life… When he subsequently attended the next scheduled counselling session with the social worker, he stated that the deceased’s affection for him lasted for only two weeks before she again relapsed into a romantic freeze. He however said that he had come to terms with the fact that the relationship was over,” Sechele said.

He added: “According to the report of the social worker, the accused had fallen in love with the deceased at a deeper level and had trouble coming to terms with the termination of that relationship. The accused had also gotten himself into a financial crisis solely to assist the deceased and invested so much in the relationship. In 2016, the accused suffered multiple loses.

Firstly, his love relationship with the deceased collapsed and secondly, his employment with BCL Mine was terminated. The social worker also stated that the accused consulted traditional doctors and that such an approach was unfavourable to his healing as it could generate contradictory messages.”

From the aforegoing, the judge noted, the love relationship between the accused and deceased had hit rock bottom with no chances of salvation, the accused could not, despite counselling, come to terms with the love relationship termination, because the deceased was not willing to engage with the accused at all. Furthermore according to Sechele, the cumulative effect of love relationship termination and job loss sent him on a free fall and he was nothing short of an emotional wreck.

“On the aggravation side however is the fact that the accused’s actions were premeditated. He pre-armed himself with a knife before he stealthily sneaked into the yard where the deceased was relaxing with her relatives. He failed to heed the wise counsel of an elderly relative and instead signaled her to keep quiet whilst he executed his ghastly act. The accused was oblivious of the presence of his two minor children when he committed this offence. Needless to say, these young innocent souls have been scared for life. The accused also appear to have put a price tag on the financial assistance he rendered to the deceased. So high was such a price tag that according to him, it equates to and justifies the taking of human life,” Sechele elucidated.

The accused will be sentenced on November 5.

Attorney Kesegofetse Molosiwa represented the accused while Chimbisani Sechele represented the prosecution.




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