Murder accused on trial for partner's death

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FRANCISTOWN: A man of Nkosho ward in Letlhakane in the Central District appeared in court Tuesday for the trial of the alleged murder of his partner.

The State alleges that Wedu Mosalagae, 32, murdered his live-in girlfriend Barobi Rampape at the village on November 24 in 2012.

The first prosecution witness, Zachariah Balobile, told the court in his evidence in chief that plainclothes police officers woke him up at his place of residence during the night of November 24, 2012.

“The police told me that something had happened in one of the houses within my compound which I must see… We proceeded to the said house and whereupon entry in the bedroom, we saw the lifeless body of Rampape on the bed. The body had a cut on the throat. It looked like something sharp was used to inflict the cut. The police later conducted their investigations and took the corpse away,” said Zachariah.

The following day, Zachariah said, the police returned with the accused at his yard.

“He was shackled on his wrists and legs. Mosalagae was living with Rampape in one of the houses within my compound. They were lovers. Mosalagae led the police to where the deceased was killed inside the house. I treated Mosalagae as one of my own children. He was always active and well-behaved,” he said.

“He showed the police the knife that he allegedly used to kill the deceased. The knife was placed by the window… There was an unpleasant smell in the house because the body was about to decompose. I now cannot manage to identify the knife that was allegedly used to kill Barobi because it was not mine, but what I know is that it was a kitchen knife with a black handle.”

When cross-examined by the accused’s attorney Gontse Simon, Zachariah told the court that he managed to observe the cut sustained by the deceased because she was lying on her back on the bed.

“… I however, cannot clearly remember if there were other people in my yard apart from the police on November 24, 2012,” he said.

Zachariah’s wife, Josephine Balobile told the court in her examination in chief that on November 24, 2012, she arrived at her place of residence at night from a baby shower and found police officers inside her yard.

“The police officers were at Rampape’s house. I went to her house. The police were with my husband and a certain man whom I was told was Mosalagae’s uncle… I proceeded to Rampape’s bedroom and noticed that she appeared to be lying lifeless on her bed. She was swollen and I did not recognise her properly at first until I got nearer her bed. The police then took the corpse away to the hospital,” said Josephine.

“… On November 25, I received a text message from Rampape’s short message service (sms) on my phone at night. The sms was written on November 23, 2012 at it told me that Rampape had forgotten to switch off the outside lights of the house. I then showed the sms to the police… Later on November 25, 2015, a matron and some senior officials from the hospital came to my place to officially announce that Rampape was dead… I did not have any bad blood towards the accused when he was staying with deceased in my yard. Even now I don’t have any bad blood towards him.” When being cross-examined by Simon, Josephine said she did not have Mosalagae’s cellphone number.

Quizzed further by Simon that apart from the sms saying that Mosalagae was the one who sent her an sms using Rampape’s phone, was there anything she could say with certainty that the sms was really from Mosalagae, she said: “No. I thought the sms was from Mosalagae because it bore his name at the end of the text message. I also thought that Mosalagae sent the sms because it was talking about lights in my yard.” Asked further by Simon if her answer was just an assumption, Josephine answered in the affirmative.

 “Although the sms spoke about the lights that were switched on, I found that the lights were off…”

Another prosecution witness, Leidile Ntema, told the court that the police found him at Zacharia’s place after he paid him a visit. “The police indicated that they wanted to know what caused the death of the deceased when they entered Rampape’s house. When we entered the house, I saw a knife that was placed by the window of the bathroom. I also saw subscriber identification module (SIM cards) and cellphones that were destroyed on top of the ironing board. I also noticed that the ceiling of the bathroom was destroyed and had a hole.”

Ntema added: “Mosalagae admitted to having caused the damage to the ceiling. He said he did so when he tried to hang himself but he ended up abandoning that plan because he was afraid. He said so after he was asked by a police officer by the names Michael Maswe.”

Ditshotlo Mpale represented the State in the matter. The case continues.

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