On the 2nd of September, the Botswana High Court in Francistown sentenced two girls to four years imprisonment (three years wholly suspended in which violence should not be an element). The third girl escaped the fateful hand of the law.
The three girls were accused of causing the death of a seventy-three-year old man of Etsha 6 in the North West District.
The incident happened on 11 October 2003 when three girls had gone for a drinking spree and found the old man lying under a tree and demanded money. They decided to search him and only found tobacco in his pockets.
But when he tried to retaliate they hit him with bottles and twigs. According to the summary of the facts and the state exhibits, the man died because of multiple injuries caused by the girls.
The deceased, Muchanga Setenge, was found by passers by the following morning and they reported the matter to the police and investigations were carried out.
Upon arrival at the hospital, he was pronounced dead. The girls were later arrested and charged with murder.
The accused girls, Boiphetlho Mosepele, 20, first accused, Tebogo Mosepele, 20, second accused and, third accused was Lerato Mangunda, 19.
The defence team brought to the court’s attention that the accused had had a rough background, which led to them drinking and they joined anti-social groups that influenced them to group behaviour. The defense said that the offence was committed due to child exuberance.
The two girls pleaded guilty to the charge of manslaughter indicating that it was not their intention to kill. The state counsel Mr Mpho Letswalo brought to the court’s attention the fact that the accused acted contradictory to section 200 of the penal code of Botswana.
In defense for the first accused, Morgan Moseki, from M.C.M. Moseki Attorneys, highlighted the fact that the accused grew up with less supervision as she did not have parents and, therefore, she fell into delinquency at a very young age. He further suggested that she should be given a non-custodial sentence but good counseling as she was a first offender.
He said the crime was committed under the influence of alcohol, and age was one of the factors that might have led to such behavior. He suggested a lesser sentence.
Standing in for the second accused, attorney Muriro Furusa also highlighted the same points for the second accused. He pointed out that a harsh sentence would not rebuild the girl’s future but ruin it and that she might end up being a hard core criminal.
Furusa stated alcohol as one of the factors that could have influenced the commission of the crime.
Judge Zibani Makhwade objected and said that alcohol should not be used as an instrument to harm. He further indicated that many people would follow suit if at all alcohol is always to blame for the ills of our society.
The third accused was acquitted because, during the commission of the crime, Lerato Mangunda, 14, was underage and was under influence. Defending Lerato, attorney Hugo Williams asked the court to consider the immaturity of the third accused and the fact that she was intoxicated.