Court of Appeal (CoA) judges told manslaughter convict Tselayatumelo Morolong that he was lucky to have escaped with a lesser conviction.
The three-man bench led by CoA president, Ian Kirby told Morolong that he should thank his lucky stars for escaping a murder conviction.
Morolong was convicted of manslaughter in 2011 following the death of his girlfriend in 2008. He was alleged to have assaulted her by slapping and viciously kicking her on the ribs to the ground at a community hall, before disappearing with her into the dark. The decomposed body of the deceased was later found dumped at Kolobeng River. The state of the body made it difficult for medical examiners to establish the cause of death.
“Looking at the circumstances of the case and that you viciously attacked a defenseless woman, I will say it was a lucky escape for the trial judge to convict you of a lesser charge,” Kirby said.
The judges said most of the evidence was circumstantial but at the same time strong enough to convict him for murder.
According to Kirby the convict’s acts were suspicious in that when he was asked about the whereabouts of the deceased he did not cooperate instead asking his questioners why they wanted to play police on him. Kirby said this was not normal for a man who claims innocence.
Earlier on, his lawyer Onalethata Kambai argued that his client was wrongfully convicted and sentenced. “My client was convicted and sentenced for a crime the trial judge failed to establish its merits,” he said.
He alleged that his client was not properly convicted on the grounds that there was no medical evidence as to the cause of death and natural causes could be excluded.
Kambai also alleged there was no single rational hypothesis or inescapable evidence that the deceased died at the hands of his client.
He further said that the prosecution failed to prove causal connection between the acts of his client and the death of the deceased.
However State prosecutor, Khumoitsile Tirelo argued that the conviction of manslaughter was appropriate even though he should have been convicted for murder.
“The convicted was the deceased’s lover, he was the one whom he owed duty of care to the deceased. Instead he is the one who assaults her, the worst part of the assault is that he repeatedly kicked her in the ribs,” she said.
Tirelo further said that it was proper and in accordance that the trial court found that the deceased met her death at the hands of the convicted man.
“The reason is he assaulted her to the ground at a community hall, and was last seen lifting her across the fence in the dark then crossed over himself never to return back but was only seen the following day with wet shoes while the deceased was never seen until eight days later in a decomposition state,” she said.
Judgment will be delivered on February 5, 2015.