By Mpho Keleboge
Two death row inmates who were sentenced to death for the murder of a local Cab driver in Gaborone will this morning (Tuesday) appear before the Court of Appeal (CoA)seeking the court to save them from the hangman’s noose.
The two death row inmates are Matshidiso Boikanyo and Moabi Mabiletsa.
Court records show that on the fateful night of the 13th September 2013, a public transport driver, from Deluxe Cabs, Vincent Mopipi was murdered while on duty.
At the end of the prosecution’s case, the then chief justice Maruping Dibotelo who relied on circumstantial evidence found that the deceased was brutally murdered by Matshidiso Boikanyo and Moabi Mabiletsa.
But defense lawyer, Jeremia disputed this and urged the court of appeal to discharge and acquit his client arguing that there is insufficient evidence from the DNA which the court relied upon to sentence Mabiletsa.
Attorney Mishingo Jeremia,on his grounds of appeal, said the learned judge erred in convicting the 2nd Appellant (Moabi Mabiletsa) when the case against him had not been proved beyond reasonable doubt.
He said the judge erred in convicting the 2nd Appellant on the basis of the DNA evidence when this evidence was not sufficient to find a conviction, and did not meet the criteria applicable for circumstantial evidence.
Jeremia said the court further erred in not appreciating the unreliability of this DNA evidence to find a conviction, regard being had to the following circumstances: the fact that the DNA results were partial and not complete; the fact that there were other possible contributors to the DNA on the knife, such that the evidence did not point sorely at the guilt of the appellant.
When sentencing Mabiletsa and Boikanyo Justice Maruping based his findings on two critical evidence of a Cell phone which was used during the commissioning of crime and a butcher knife which was used to stab the deceased with the help of DNA samples from Police Science Laboratory.
He said a pathologist who examined the body has established that the deceased died of multiple wounds (44 stab wounds) and on internal examination of the body soft tissues of the chest, neck and abdomen were contused in areas of external wounds, that the cartilage of the 3rd rib on the left was slashed, the 4th rib and rib cartilage were severed and right dome of diaphragm was perforated.
The DNA of blood stains from the knife which was found from Mabiletsa matches that of the deceased and that the knife in question implicates the accused and the accused stand convicted of murder.
But defense lawyer Jeremia prayed for the court to set aside the decision of the High court judge and discharge and acquit his client.