Francistown High Court Judge Gaolapelwe Ketlogetswe last week sentenced Letlhogonolo Motlhoiwa, a former nurse at Letsholathebe II Memorial Hospital, to 13 years imprisonment for murder.
Details of the case indicate that sometimes in August 2012, the accused fell in love with one Kemo Otlhomile (deceased) who was a nurse at Maun General Hospital. It is alleged that the relationship between the two love birds blossomed until December 2012 when the deceased (Otlhomile) became pregnant and brought the matter to the attention of the accused.
While the two were sleeping in the early hours of the morning of April 3rd 2013, the deceased started a conversation about the pregnancy and told the accused (Ketlogetswe) that she wanted to terminate their relationship as she had been impregnated by another man. An altercation ensued between the two and the accused took a table knife and stabbed the deceased 44 times all over her body. He thereafter fled the scene, leaving behind some of his clothes and a pair of shoes.
The deceased was heard screaming by the neighbours who alerted the police and called an ambulance. She was taken to Letsholathebe II Memorial Hospital where she was certified dead upon arrival. A post-mortem was conducted on the deceased at Nyangabgwe Referral Hospital by a pathologist who opined that death was due to shock and haemorrhage due to multiple stab injuries.
The accused pleaded guilty to the offence.
During trial the state counsel, Khani Khani from the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) said the accused committed the offence with malice aforethought, adding that he did not have a lawful excuse for his actions. The state further produced a post-mortem report, a biologist affidavit, kitchen knife, photo album, a khakhi safari jacket, a green shirt, black cap and a pair of brown shoes as exhibits before court.
However both the defence and state attorney agreed that there were extenuating circumstance in the matter. The defence attorney, Charles Tlagage argued before the court that the accused was provoked when he was suddenly told by the deceased, with whom he had been in a love relationship for ten months, that the pregnancy she was carrying at the time was not his responsibility.
“The accused had been labouring under the honest but mistaken belief that he was expecting a child with the deceased,” said Tlagae.
He also said youthfulness and the fact that the murder was not premeditated were factors that pointed to extenuation.
During mitigation the defence also asserted that the accused was a first offender, had pleaded guilty to the offence and shown remorse.
Giving his verdict, Justice Ketlogetswe said the offence had aggravating circumstances. He said while it is bad enough to kill a person, it is even more cruel to kill a defenceless pregnant woman.
He however said that the court took into cognition the fact that the accused pleaded guilty and showed remorse. The judge also took into account the fact that at the time of commission of the offence the accused was a young man aged 23 years.
“The crime was not premeditated although it was committed with such rage as to induce a sense of shock in the minds of right thinking members of the society,” said the Judge.
“In the circumstances, and bearing in mind the principle of consistency, I think a sentence of 13 years imprisonment will meet justice in this case. The accused is sentenced to 13 years imprisonment. The period the accused spent in custody shall be deducted from his imprisonment sentence,” said Justice Ketlogetswe.
The accused was advised of his right to appeal to the Court of Appeal against the sentence within six weeks.