The Francistown High Court recently sentenced two Mahalapye men to seven years imprisonment for stealing and slaughtering the police crime intelligence director, Nunu Lesetedi’s cattle.
The duo, Michael Sesola and Mmoloki Chaba, herded Lesetedi’s two cattle to the Sesola family kraal in Sese in the Mahalapye area back in November 2014 and slaughtered them without the owners consent.
Passing the sentence recently, Francistown High Court Judge, Bengbame Sechele also ordered the duo to compensate Lesetedi with the sum of P50,000 for the two cattle. He revealed that Lesetedi had initially claimed P70,000 which the trial Court in its assessment found to be excessive.
Furthermore, Judge Sechele said he took into consideration that the two men were repeat offenders with similar offences hence liable to terms of imprisonment ranging from seven to 15 years.
The Court heard that back in 2014, Lesetedi received a tip off that the duo was seen with his cattle in a kraal. The top cop reported the matter to Mahalapye police who rushed to the scene and caught the two men red handed loading two fresh carcasses into a white Land Cruiser.
Moreover, the Court heard that inside the kraal were two fresh foetuses indicating that the slaughtered cattle were at an advanced stage of pregnancy. Sechele said there were also two fresh skins bearing brand marks “BP8” in a vertical configuration that was later identified as Lesetedi’s brand mark.
However, the Judge also took into consideration the impassioned pleas in mitigation on behalf of the accused persons by their counsel, Reneetswe Rabasotho. The lawyer said his clients were breadwinners and any lengthy period of incarceration would spell doom for their dependents.
Judge Sechele further added that counsel Rabasotho had also pleaded with Court to take into account the fact that the duo did not benefit from their crime and that a compensation order had been made in favor of Lesetedi. He (Judge Sechele) however stated the duo were faced with a very serious offence as stock theft strikes at the heart of an industry that has over the years sustained and defined the county.
“That the legislature found it fit to prescribe a minimum sentence for this type of offence is clear testimony of the seriousness with which this offence is viewed by the lawmakers. The accused persons are repeat offenders, they are persistent in their resolve to deprive the farming community of the fruits of its labor and this, in my view, is a factor that I ought to take against them in aggravation,” Judge Sechele said.
He further revealed that according to the record from a lower court, the evidence led was fairly straight forward and the facts were mostly common cause.