The long awaited case of 2003 in which eight men were implicated in two counts of murder and robbery in Kasane last week finally closed as Francistown High Court Judge, Modiri Letsididi, sentenced seven of the accused men to 11 years imprisonment but acquitted all of them of the charge of robbery due to lack of evidence.
The Judge went further to discharge and acquit the 5th accused man of both charges, saying that the state failed to prove its case against him.
“The prosecution failed dismally to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the 5th accused was involved in the robbery and murder therefore I discharge and acquit him from all the charges,” said the judge.
According to the charge sheet, the accused men, Lesang Kgothatso, Keraelwang Keakae, Seemo Keakae Kopano Keakae, Olaotse Lekoko, Gabaikanngwe Kamwi, Ntema Ndweza and Mpho Elias, allegedly murdered Joseph Disho of Kasane on the 21st of November in 2003 and, on the same day, also robbed one Sentshotleng Loeto of his valuables and cash amounting to P1 800 also in Kasane.
The judge brought to the court’s attention that the state failed to prove the issue of common purpose on a charge of robbery, adding that it is possible that during the time when the deceased was attacked, there could have been an opportunist who took advantage of the incident to take the valuables and the money from the robbery complainant.
However, during mitigation, the defence lawyers begged court to take into cognizance that when the condemned men committed the crime of murder, all of them were still young and were under alcohol influence as they were from a shebeen.
One of the defence lawyers, Morris Ndawana, of Ndawana and Associates, revealed that his client had children and siblings to look after as he lost all his parents.
“I pray that the court should grant the accused a lenient sentence as he is a first offender, has a family and siblings to fend for, therefore a harsh sentence will only serve as punishment to those who depend on him and will only turn him into a hardened criminal,” Ndawana said.
Morgan Moseki, another defence counsel, also implored court to take into consideration that his client was young at the time he committed the offence and implored that, at least, the court should give him a suspended sentence because society has a lot of expectations from him and he has an opportunity to rehabilitate himself.
Sentencing the accused, Justice Letsididi indicated that due to the fact that the case had extenuating factors, he has to temper justice with mercy. He also mentioned that society still expected justice to prevail as murder is a serious crime and added that the deceased was killed in a gruesome manner as he tried to plead for mercy from the accused men, according to evidence by witnesses, but instead the culprits continued to kick and smash him with stones until he died.
Among other attorneys representing the accused were Francistown-based attorneys, Gontse Simon, of Manyothwane and Associates Keitshegile Kaizer Sechele of Mmohe Attorneys.
The state was represented by Pascal Mhandu.