IN THE HIGH COURT OF LESOTHO
In the matter between:
Review Case No 115/2003 In Maseru District
CRNO. 1314/2003 Review Order No. 12/2003
REVIEW ORDER 11th August 2003
The Accused were found guilty on their own plea by the learned magistrate of Maseru. The Accused had stolen a sheep belonging to one Tlali 'Mota.
The Accused were consequently sentenced to a period of M7,000.00 or 3 years which was "suspended for six (6) months" on condition that each Accused was not found guilty of any offence involving theft during this period.
The learned magistrate's reasons for the above sentence (the suspension) was that the Accused did not waste anytime of the Court. In addition they did not have previous convictions.
The above reasons are not weighty enough when one considers that stock theft is rampant in the country and is a source of other crimes. One must of necessity read this into the policy behind the introduction of the new Stock Theft Act No.4 of 2000 This
is demonstrated by the unsavoury extent to which stock owners, whose animals have been stolen, take the law into their hands. This is something that is to be feared and loathed by a right thinking Court or else the Courts are brought into disrepute. This is the reason why the learned magistrate's sentence borders on being too lenient. Indeed only one sheep of the complaint was stolen.
It is true that sentence is eminently in the discretion of a presiding officer. But still Courts should loath unnecessarily attracting criticisms from whosoever by reason of imposing too lenient sentences.
For above reasons the above sentence ought to be disturbed by this reviewing Court. I do so by varying the sentence to read:
"Each Accused is fined M7,000.00 or 3 years imprisonment which is suspended for three (3) years on condition that the Accused are not found guilty of any crime involving dishonesty."
The effect is to remove the ludicrousness of the six (6) months period of the suspension of the sentence imposed by the learned magistrate.
11th August 2003
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