The Court of Appeal on Friday overturned the sentence of former Bakwena regent, Kgosikwena Edwin Sebele, following his conviction for stock theft. Kgosikwena had appealed a four-year sentence handed to him in February 2010 by the Molepolole Magistrate Court in a case in which he was convicted of stealing a goat belonging to one Mhiko Gabatlale of Sojwe in 2009.
The Court of Appeal’s judgment on Friday was delivered with Judge John Foxcroft, Judge Stanley Moore and Judge Saeth Twum forming the quorum.
Earlier, Justice Lot Moroka said state witnesses had failed to describe the billy goat in question.
He also said there is no evidence which showed that Sebele had the intention to defraud at the time he bought the goat as tribal authorities were present.
Representing Sebele, Attorney Kgosietsile Ngakaagae submitted that two issues lay at the appeal. The first issues is whether the offence of stock theft had been proved and secondly the matter of ownership. The other issues he said should come first since ownership is an essential element of theft and added that one cannot steal one’s own property.
Ngakaagae submitted that no fraudulent intent was demonstrated throughout the trial to prove that the accused had an intention to steal.
He also submitted that word was going around that Sebele’s 62 goats were missing and the billy goat was one of them. Mr Ngakaagae said all the 14 witnesses riddled the state’s case with contradiction as they changed their stories, adding that evidence of such low quality cannot be used as the basis for conviction.
“What is important is justice that the court has done and Sebele is not the first person to be acquitted,” he said.
Ngakaagae said it is up to the government whether to reinstate Sebele back to work and added that it is also up to Sebele’s willingness to go back to work.
“Justice delayed is justice denied there is an element of malicious prosecution,” said Ngakaagae.
The state was represented by Mosweu Ditlodi of the Directorate of Public Prosecutions.
Before succeeding, the sentence imposed upon him which is now set aside by the court, Kgosikwena Sebele has been in custody for over two years and eight months based at Molepolole Prison.
Meanwhile, the Court of Appeal July session came to an end on Friday and was closed by the President of Court of Appeal, Justice Ian Kirby.