Lobatse High Court judge Ian Kirby has dismissed an appeal brought before his Court by former President of the Customary Court of Appeal, Kgosikwena Sebele.
Justice Kirby further revoked the four-year sentenced that was invoked by Molepolole Magistrate Dumisane Basupi, and sentenced Sebele to five years.
Justice Kirby said Magistrate Basupi’s ruling that there were extenuating circumstances in the matter was flawed.
”Whereas a prescribed minimum sentence is mandatory in terms of the Act, I believe the stock in case had extenuating circumstances. This warrants the imposition of less than five years,” Basupi had ruled.
But Justice Kirby said Basupi’s contention that a goat is of less value than a cow was misdirected, as the loss of a goat is as painful as that of a cow to small stock farmers.
Further, he said, there have been many instances where a minimum sentence was imposed for the theft of goats.
Justice Kirby further said the goat in case was a valuable Boer goat breeding ram.
“This raises the question of whether blame worthiness is reduced if the item that was stolen is of minimal value. If anything, this was an aggravating factor because a wealthier man stole from a poorer man,” said Justice Kirby.
He further agreed with the appellant and state counsel that his Court was at liberty to set the magistrate’s sentence aside and impose a suitable one.
He said Sebele was 63 when he committed the offense, and the question of youthfulness does not constitute extenuating circumstances.
“Youthfulness is a standard extenuating circumstance when it results in immaturity, inexperience or exuberance. But old age should not constitute an exceptional extenuating circumstance unless it is accompanied by additional factors like senility or destitution. 63 is a mature age, and an elder should appreciate the need to abide by the law,” he said.
Kirby further said Sebele stole the goat out of greed rather than need.
Thabo Malambane represented the state while Shame Taimu represented Sebele.