FRANCISTOWN: A 22-year-old man was on Tuesday found guilty of a single count of murder.
When passing judgment, Justice Zibani Makhwade said there is circumstantial evidence that proves that Tshepang Motsamai killed Khumoetsile Sechele in Tonota village on February 22, 2012, following a drinking spree.
Makhwade said Sechele was stabbed with a sharp object on the right side of his neck and died due to shock and heavy bleeding. The issue, he noted, was whether Motsamai who was 19 years old at the time of the incident, caused the death or not.
The magistrate further said that Oaitse Leboro, the first prosecution witness, had told court that on the day Sechele was killed, he was among a group of youths who frequented bars to dance to music and drink alcohol. He said that after the bars had closed, a dispute over a girl ensued when the accused and his friends were about to go home.
Makhwade stated that the deceased tried to intervene peacefully but was stabbed by the accused.
“From the evidence it is clear that the deceased was not well known by the other youths who were with the accused. Leboro said he saw a flash of a knife and heard the deceased asking the accused why he had stabbed him, although he did not see the actual stabbing taking place.
Leboro later said that he had omitted to state that in his police statement because the police had not asked him and he was afraid. His evidence therefore cannot be relied upon,” he said.
The judge said the statement made by Goitseone Motsamai, who is the second prosecution witness, is similar to Leboro’s.
Makhwade further said Goitseone Motsamai also told the court that Motsamai did not sleep at his place after leaving the bars, adding that he said he did not want to sleep but wanted to watch some movies.
“He also distanced himself from seeing the accused stabbing the deceased and said police forgot to ask him if he saw the accused stabbing the deceased,” he said. Makhwade also noted that the evidence of the fourth, fifth and sixth prosecution witnesses who are very much known to the accused and were with him when he allegedly committed the offence could also not be relied upon.
He also said that Justice Motlhabani who was 16 years old at the time of the incident, said that he saw the accused slapping the deceased on the neck but said he omitted to state that in his evidence in chief.
Makhwade said in his considered view, he found Motlhabani’s answer unconvincing.
“I do not find a reason why the police could fail to record such a simple piece of evidence. The fact that the accused did not sleep at his place shows that his mind was restless after he committed the offence. All witnesses who gave evidence were known to the accused and as such they could not incriminate him,” he said.
Makhwade said that the fact that witnesses said they did not see the accused stabbing the deceased couldn’t be used to absolve him from the offence. “ It is trite law that courts can use circumstantial evidence to convict accused persons in cases of a similar nature but each case is judged on itse evidence. I find as a fact that the accused stabbed the deceased and had no legal justification to do so. The logical conclusion why you commited the offence is that you wanted to injure him but did not plan to do so,” he said.
Makhwade added that the accused was influenced by drinking alcohol and his young age to commit the offence.
“Lack of good parenting also played its role in the accused to commit the offence. It is clear from evidence that during that fateful day, a group of youths had gone to drink alcohol which also reduces his moral blame worthiness,” he said.
Prosecutor Moffat Dick from the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) said the accused was a first offender.
In mitigation, the accused’s attorney Mishingo Jeremia pleaded with the court to have mercy on him since he was a first time offender.
“He did not set out to kill the deceased. Alcohol influenced him to commit the crime. His maternal grandparents raised him and his highest academic qualification is Form Three. He should be punished but the court should also give him the opportunity to be rehabilitated and contribute meaningfully in society,” he said.
The accused will be sentenced on August 18, 2015.