Gaborone High Court Judge, Abednego Tafa has spared convicted murderer Thabo Masilo the hangman’s noose.
Delivering his ruling yesterday, Justice Tafa said there was no any degree of certainty that Masilo intended to murder former St Joseph College student, Tshepang Motlhabane.
“Although I have found as a fact that he went to the deceased’s house with the intention to commit a crime, it cannot be said with any degree of certainty that his intention was to commit murder,” Tafa said.
When sparing the ‘troubled’ Masilo, the Judge said there was a collection of events that led to extenuation, which he (Tafa) found.
He explained that when Masilo stabbed the deceased, his mind was clouded with the alcohol and drugs he had taken because when he reached the deceased’s house he was already high on drinks and drugs.
Also, Justice Tafa said though Masilo intended to exaggerate the extent to which he had taken alcohol and dagga, it could not however be said in the absence of contradicting evidence that he did not drink alcohol nor smoke dagga.
“I am of the view that the accused’s youthfulness, binge drinking, smoking of dagga, absence of a direct intention to murder and slow development at childhood stage viewed cumulatively constitute extenuation and I so find. This court is at large to consider a sentence other than death penalty,” he said.
The Judge also said there was also the fact that all the evidence pointed to the accused having gone to the deceased’s house unarmed. Justice Tafa further said he took into account Masilo’s witness who was his mother when determining if there were extenuating circumstances. His mother, Victoria Masilo testified during trial that her son had no father figure as his father played no role in his upbringing and that she raised him alone.
She also told the court that her son had developmental challenges, which manifested themselves when he was just under a year old. One of challenge was that his neck bended one side.
“The other was that he had a hearing problem which has persisted to date. This resulted in late speech development, which forced him to start schooling late. He was a slow learner and he associated with children much younger than him,” she said. Following Justice Tafa’s findings on extenuation, Masilo’s lawyer Kgosietsile Ngakaagae will be make submissions on mitigation next week Friday before sentencing.
Meanwhile, Masilo was found guilty of murder in 2018 after giving un-sworn evidence that the student was in a love relationship with him and that they had a lovers’ quarrel that led to the killing. He was accused of stabbing Motlhabane at her parent’s home at Phase 4, Gaborone on November 16, 2012.