A prisoner, who was convicted of stock theft in 2012, appealed his conviction and sentence before the High Court of Gaborone yesterday, crying police brutality and procedural abuse.
Temo Malatsi of Moshaweng village appeared before Justice Michael Mothobi pleading with the court to set aside his conviction and sentence.
He was convicted and sentenced to five years by Moshaweng customary court (Kweneng District) for stealing and killing a goat. He argued he was convicted for a crime he never committed and that he only pleaded guilty because of pressure and constant beatings from the police.
“I only pleaded guilty because the police were beating me up during the time of arrest and I was forced to plead guilty”, he said. Malatsi also said during trial he was subjected to procedural abuse both by the court and the prosecution.
“The court never wanted to hear my side of the story from the start of trial and I was never accorded time to plead my case, even after sentencing I was never told that I can appeal”, he said. He told court that he was not supposed to be convicted especially that there was were no exhibits that were found on him, saying the presiding officer over the case fabricated the whole thing.
However Judge Mothobi dismissed his appeal saying Malatsi never raised the same issues he had raised in court then upheld the initial sentence that was issued by the lower customary court. Mothobi said Malatsi went through the Molepolole Customary Court and the Customary Court of Appeal where he had the chance to raise the issues. “You had plenty of time to raise those issues but you failed. I found it hard to believe that you were not accorded a fair trial by both courts”, he said.
He explained to Malatsi that he should have never raised the issue of exhibits not being found on him saying prosecution is the one that raised the issue. Mothobi however admitted that the meat leftovers found on him were never taken for forensics to determine if it was goat meat as claimed.
“Prosecution admitted in failing to advance their evidence by taking the meat for forensics, but it is not like the evidence totally ruled you out, even circumstantial evidence can convict you,” he said.
After his sentencing by the lower customary court in 2012, Malatsi then appealed to Molepolole Customary Court where his conviction and sentence were set aside.
However his freedom was short-lived as prosecution appealed to the Customary Court of Appeal where his conviction and sentence were reinstated.