CRI/A/1/2003 (CR/834/2002 Leribe)
IN THE HIGH COURT OF LESOTHO
In the matter between:
LISENE RAMAKATSA Appellant
For the Appellant : Mr. Molapo
For the Crown : Miss L Maqutu
Delivered by the Honourable Mr. Justice T. Monapathi on the 12th day of March 2003
This appeal followed the learned magistrate's decision of the 30th August 2001 in which the Appellant was charged and convicted on his own plea of guilty and was sentenced to M5,000.00 or two (2) years imprisonment.
It was alleged in the charge that the Appellant had contravened section 3(2) of Arms And Ammunition Act No. 17 of 1966, as amended. Counsel brought to my attention the latest amendment being Internal Security (Arms
And Ammunition) (Amendment) Act No.4 of 1999.
It was said that on or about the 30th August 2001 at or near Lenyakoane in the district of Leribe the Appellant had been found in possession of a firearm to wit a 303 Serial no. 5390 rifle plus three rounds of ammunition without a firearm certificate issued to him under the Act.
It was admitted by the Crown that there had been no reference to the law as amended by section 3(4)(b) read with section 8 of the said 1999 Amendment Act. It was contended that the Appellant should have been sentenced in terms of the amended section 43 of the Principal Act. This submission by the Appellant's Counsel was the only good one, only to extent that the amended sections were not spelled out. It could not however benefit the Appellant
Except for the above submission the Appellant's grounds of appeal were quite a tedious lot. It should not have come as a surprise to Appellant's Counsel that the Crown Counsel was only required to address on the above submission. The grounds of a appeal were as follows:
"That the learned magistrate misdirected herself in holding that the Respondent has locu standi in judico to sue the Appellant inasmuch:
The learned magistrate misdirected herself on the law when imposing sentence.
The learned magistrate gave no reasons or at all when handing out sentence.
The learned magistrate misdirected herself and erred in sentencing the accused without any evidence having been led by prosecution.
The learned magistrate misdirected herself and erred in finding Accused guilty when the charge had not been proved adequately by the prosecution.
The above grounds of appeal were clearly not a model of particularity. See Rakoti v Rex 1979(2) LLR 393."
In terms of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act 1981 section 240(b)(i), under which accused who pleads guilty to a charge is dealt with the only requirement is that:
"......the prosecutor states the facts disclosed by the evidence in his possession, the Court shall, after recording such fact, ask the person whether he admits them, and if he does, being in verdict without hearing evidence." (My underlining)
Once this is borne in mind a lot of questions will have been answered in this appeal.
In the first place there is no requirement that a magistrate shall separately make a reasoned judgment nor is it to be determined whether the prosecution
has made out a case beyond a reasonable doubt. It suffices that it should firstly be observed that a plea of guilty which is an admission signifies a judicial confession. See Rantsoti Nkhatho v Rex 1978 LLR169 at 170.
Secondly, in the policy of the section 240(b)(i) the requirement for an elaborate evaluation of the Crown case so as to instigate whether there is proof beyond a reasonable doubt is never in issue.
If there was even a possibility on the facts that there was no sufficient proof of guilt then it would have been useful to have pointed out the respect in which that was so. For all I know if there was something significant that went towards militating against the inference of guilt the accused would have indicated so even if it was at the stage of mitigation.
It suffices that:
"The statement of facts must disclose that (an accused) is guilty....... It has been held in numerous cases that unless the facts establish the existence of an offence the accused must be acquitted......".
See Makata Phomane v Rexl982-1984 LLR 69 at 70 and cases therein cited.
As it is trite, there is no requirement that the names of the witnesses be
disclosed by the public prosecutor in his outline. It was not understood to this Court what it was meant by "valid evidence" which was said to have been missing or deficient in the prosecutor's outline -
"It must be assumed that the facts were those disclosed by the evidence in the prosecutor's possession. See Rex v Kofo Chali Review Order No. 15/78 (unreported) dated 4th September 1978 as quoted in Jacob Dlamini & Ano v Rex 1978 LLR 359 at 360.
The cursory complaint against sentence could by deciphered to mean that there were no reasons for the sentence. Indeed there were no such reasons. The learned magistrate a quo would be mulcted for that or the matter would be sent back to the magistrate. But I find no compelling reason to do that. I would substitute the same sentence for the one by the learned magistrate. The sentence is neither too lenient or shockingly harsh. It is therefore fair and acceptable/ it being what is prescribed in the Act as amended.
Coming back to the first submission the Crown conceded that the proper charge should have been under the new law. Furthermore the public prosecutor was most probably aware of this. That is why the sentence was as provided in terms of section 43 (as amended) of the principal law which is consistent with the amended section 3(4)(a) of the said 1999 Act.
Acting in terms of section 7(a) of the High Court Act No.5 of 1978 I would
substitute the said proper section and would conclude consequently that the sentence meted out against the Appellant remains proper and without prejudice to the Appellant. See R v Tlali Lemphane and Others R/O No. 2 of 27th February 2003.
The appeal is dismissed.
12th March 2003