IN THE HIGH COURT OF LESOTHO
In The Matter Between:
Review Case No. 153/03 CR 131/03
Review Order No. 18/03 In the District of Thaba Tseka
ORDER ON REVIEW
3rd October, 2003.
The accused was charged with the offence of contravening Section 8 (8) and (9) read with Section 14 of Stock Theft Act No.4 of 2000. The offence involved accused being found in possession of a horse without being in possession of bewys for it.
The accused had initially pleaded not guilty, but later changed his plea to that of guilty to the charge. The facts were outlined by the public prosecutor and were accepted by the accused. The facts disclosed an offence hence the conviction of the accused. He was sentenced to M7,000.00 or 3 years imprisonment. The magistrate
in his sentence showed that he was suspending three quarters of the sentence as the accused was a first offender and also that he had pleaded guilty.
My concern here is that the charge as was framed by the public prosecutor and read to the accused, clearly stipulated that the section under which the accused was charged was to be read together with section 14 of Stock Theft Act No.4 of 2000. That section 14 deals with penalties to be imposed on persons who have been found guilty of contravening a provision of the Act. It also covers cases of first offenders, second or subsequent convictions.
Above all, section 14 has been amended by Legal Notice No5 of 2003 which in effect has substituted the fine of M7000 and M14,000 for first offender by Ml 5,000 and M30,000. But the amendment only came into effect on the 9th June 2003 which was after the Commission of the Offence on the 25th March, 2003, thus not affecting the accused's sentence.
I am concerned now about the suspended part of the sentence. The section, section 14, provides for sentence of not less than M7000 and not less than 3 years imprisonment for a first offender. The effect of suspending the sentence has been to bring the sentence to a fine and imprisonment lower than what the Act has provided for. The Courts are there to interpret the law which has been passed by Parliament as the legislature, and because the matter is before me on automatic review and not on Appeal I am going to confirm the conviction, but alter the sentence by removing the suspended part of it so as to bring it in conformity with the Act.
The sentence is thus to read M7000.00 or three years imprisonment.
CC: The Magistrate - Thaba-Tseka
O/C Police -Thaba-Tseka
O/C Prisons - Thaba-Tseka
Public Prosecutor - Thaba-Tseka