R v Moeko (CRVT/59/01)

Media Neutral Citation: 
[2003] LSHC 59
Judgment Date: 
23 May, 2003

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CRVT/59/01

IN THE HIGH COURT OF LESOTHO


In the matter between:


REX

V

THABANG MOEKO


SENTENCE


Delivered by the Honourable Mr. Justice T. Monapathi on the 23rd day of May 2003


The Accused had been charged with the murder of Thabang Oliphant who died on the 25lh day of April, 2001. I have today recorded a verdict of guilty to Culpable Homicide against the Accused. He changed his plea later in the proceedings. The Crown accepted.


It is also in the circumstances where we have already heard the evidence of the Crown witnesses and evidence of the Accused himself and his witness. So that we are in a situation where not only do we benefit from the addresses by Counsel we also benefit from the facts that have been revealed in the evidence


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before conviction.


These circumstances that we gather from the evidence are circumstances which teach us that this is not an unusual case. It is not unusual in the sense that it shows us what is to be expected of the age of this Accused. It is at this age when fights or assaults erupt for the most ludicrous of reasons. And again it is what is to be expected, taking into account the standards of the community to which Accused belongs. We are advised as Judges to take into account these factors.


I have already noted that this young man is a first offender, meaning that he has not in the past brushed against the law in any adverse manner. He is eighteen years old now and he was about sixteen when the offence was committed. He is an illiterate herdboy. These are circumstances which are very persuasive in themselves.


I have also taken into account the circumstances of the alleged offence. Whether one takes that version that speaks of the Deceased having charged the Accused with having grazed on his father's sorghum field, which precipitated the assault or, whether one takes that version where the Accused speaks of his having been hit with a ball and about the remark that was consequently made


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too harsh sentences because such sentences end up being inhumane or brutal to accused persons, if wo do so we end up not demonstrating that we have taken into account the circumstances of the accused persons.


The Deceased's father and Accused's father are co-villagers and they are related. We are thinking this will have influence enough towards reconciliation of the two emotionally injured people. We believe that even if there were tempers which rose they will brought down to normal as this people are adults and responsible citizens.


We have also noted an important consideration. It is that the sentence of imprisonment is full of risks in itself. It is a risk to an accused person. He will meet people of character in prison who may change his otherwise good behaviour. It remains a risk. At the same time we may not forget that prisons are intended to rehabilitate people and it is a form of sentence with which the Court shows its displeasure for bad conduct by offenders.


This Court has attempted to be as lenient as possible, taking into account all these considerations. It has involved and tampered its sentence with mercy as it should. Indeed what has greatly exercised our minds mostly is the fragile age of this Accused person. He is very young. We however have a duty to


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by the Deceased, there circumstances are all of them puerile and bizarre. They illustrate that that could not have been any intention to kill but the whole event was unfortunate.


In the midst of all the most serious thing of all is that a human being has lost his life. It is a serious thing under any account. That is why it will always attract this comment that somebody who has died will never come back to life. He goes forever. If he was a breadwinner his dependants would lose that power. We have not been told more about the Deceased but I believe the loss is equally as serious. I do also note that he was a much older man than this Accused.


In sentencing an accused person the Court has to note firstly the seriousness of the offence. Secondly, the circumstances of the Accused person himself. One of the most important things, the third one is this one, about the attitude of the community towards the sentence that the Courts are supposed to impose. It is this which exercised our minds.


The community of which the Court is a servant must not think that Courts will sentence people to sentences that are outrageously lenient because they will put the Courts into disrepute. At the same time we are not supposed to impose


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accused persons. If we do so we end up not demonstrating that we have taken into account the circumstances of the accused persons.


The Deceased's father and Accused's father are co-villagers and they are related. We are thinking this will have influence enough towards reconciliation of the two emotionally injured people. We believe that even if there were tempers which rose they will brought down to normal as this people are adults and responsible citizens.

We have also noted an important consideration. It is that the sentence of imprisonment is full of risks in itself. It is a risk to an accused person. He will meet people of character in prison who may change his otherwise good behaviour. It remains a risk. At the same time we may not forget that prisons are intended to rehabilitate people and it is a form of sentence with which the Court shows its displeasure for bad conduct by offenders.


This Court has attempted to be as lenient as possible, taking into account all these considerations. It has involved and tampered its sentence with mercy as it should. Indeed what has greatly exercised our minds mostly is the fragile age of this Accused person. He is very young. We however have a duty to perform. It is that offenders must be punished. Indeed it is not an easy


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responsibility to discharge. Even the sentencing exercise itself is not one of the easiest stages in the (functions of a criminal Court.


Stand up Accused. Sir you are hereby punished to a sentence of imprisonment of three years (3) without option of a fine. That is the sentence.


T. Monapathi

Judge

23rd May 2003


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perform. It is that offenders must be punished. Indeed it is not an easy responsibility to discharge. Even the sentencing exercise itself is not one of the easiest stages in the functions of a criminal Court.


Stand up Accused. Sir you are hereby punished to a sentence of imprisonment of three years (3) without option of a fine. That is the sentence.


T. Monapathi

Judge

23rd May 2003