It was hugs and kisses at the Lobatse High Court on Friday after two former condemned prisoners, Motswana Kgotso Brandon Sampson, and South African, Michael Molefe’s death sentences were reduced to twenty years jail term by Court of Appeal judges.
“We praise God and their lawyers, Duma Boko and Ookeditse Maphakwane, for this. It was only because of them that this happened,” said Matshidiso Banda, girl friend to Molefe and Ikwaleng Sampson, young sister to Brandon.
Relatives to the deceased were not present at Court.
Molefe and Sampson could not hide their joy after their appeal was upheld and were openly showed it by hugging, not only their family members and friends, but some members of the public.
Their sentences are to run from December 2000 when they were first put behind bars.
Upholding the appeal, the panel of three judges found that, amongst other things, they were not convinced that the only possible and reasonable conclusion that Molefe went armed with a gun to the deceased’s house armed with a revolver was to avenge the death of his aunt.
Molefe, they stated, had said, ”It was not my intention to kill these people; I only wanted to frighten them” so that the deceased Robert Ncube (known to him as “ Ambrose”) would tell him what happened in South Africa.
The story is that “Ambrose” had killed his aunt and robbed her of R 95,000.
They further said that, because “Ambrose” was known to be carrying a gun as he had killed Molefe‘s aunt with a gun, it was prudent for Molefe to be carrying a gun.
The judges said that it was not proven that this was a premeditated murder as the judge at the lower Court had found.
On the issue that he had common purpose with Sampson to murder Sam Hombarume, the judges said there was no evidence on which such an inference can be based.
This, they said, was because the two had gone to the deceased Ncube’s house not expecting to meet a second person in the house and that Sampson was not armed.
The judges also said that Molefe, in his statement, says nothing about a second killing with a knife. Because of this, the judges said one cannot assume that there was intention to kill anyone before the struggle began at the door.
They added that one cannot assume that Molefe foresaw or must have foreseen that Sampson would kill using a knife that he fortuitously picked up.
Thato Dibeela, who appeared on behalf of the state, declined to comment.
A member of the security detail was overheard expressing displeasure. “Who knows what they will do after they complete their terms,” he said. Their jail terms might come to an end in five years if they get a remission.