FRANCISTOWN: A former BCL Mine employee convicted of the brutal murder of his girlfriend after stabbing her with a knife several times in front of their two young children was recently sentenced to 25 years in jail.
The accused, Khumoetsile Mantswe was convicted of the murder of Masedi Tshime on December 30, 2016 at Lesenepole village in the Central District of Botswana.
Mantswe was convicted on his own guilty plea to the murder. He escaped the hangman’s noose by a whisker after the court ruled that there were exceptional extenuating circumstances in the matter that led him to commit the offence.
When sentencing Mantswe, Justice Bengbame Sechele said that he took into account that the accused was a first offender who pleaded guilty to the offence, which is a sign of remorse on his part, that the accused was the sole breadwinner for his children and those of his late twin brother, and that he acted out of character because he was depressed.
Sechele added: “The court also took into account that the accused was young (31 years) at the time he committed the offence and was influenced by youthful exuberance to commit the offence, he cooperated with law enforcement agencies throughout the trial and he also abided by all his bail conditions.”
Sechele explained that when passing sentences, the courts should take into account the interests of all parties involved in the matter and must come up with a balancing exercise so that they mete out sentences that are appropriate and those that can act as a deterrent to would-be offenders to show society’s abhorrence of such crime.
“I have taken into account all the mitigatory and aggravating factors in this matter. This offence was premeditated. The accused received counselling from a social worker, but he remained impervious to such counselling. He also disregarded wise counsel of elders who were present when he committed the offence not to do so,” Sechele said.
When previously delivering his ruling in extenuating factors, Sechele said: “The accused, however, remained impervious to such counselling and was unrelenting in his desire to harm the deceased. To put it in his own words,
On Thursday, Justice Sechele reiterated that cases of gender-based violence, especially those committed against women and children, are currently growing at a frightening rate in Botswana.
He said: “So dire is the situation in Botswana nowadays that women are not safe and are afraid to fall in love because they don’t know that if by so doing, they may be signing their [own] death warrants. In this circumstance, I sentence the accused to 25 years in jail which period shall reckon from the time he was incarcerated. The accused is advised of his right to appeal at the Court of Appeal six weeks from now.”
After Mantswe was sentenced, Tshime’s mother Moanamisi Totanang told Mmegi outside court that, although as a family they had wished the court had given the maximum sentence for Mantswe to be sent to his death, they still respected the court’s decision to be lenient towards the accused.
With tears welling up in her eyes, Totanang said: “As a family, we had wished that the accused should have been hanged so that he could follow my daughter. I am praying to God day in and day out that he should give me the strength and means to take care of my departed daughter’s children aged four and two. From now on, I am going to seek counselling because this incident has negatively affected me ever since it was committed.”
The deceased’s uncle Olemogile Koontse also expressed similar sentiments as his sister’s.
Mustering courage to speak to this reporter, he said: “We respect the decision of the court although we had wished that it could have passed the ultimate sentence of death.”