Lobatse High Court Judge David Newman on Thursday convicted three of the four security agents involved in the Kalafitis killing.
The court, however, accepted extenuating circumstances, meaning that the trio will receive custodial sentences instead of getting the death penalty.
Botswana Defence Force officers Gotshosamang Sechele, Ronny Matako and Boitshoko Maifala were convicted of shooting to death John Kalafatis.
Their colleague, Dzikamani Mothobi, escaped the net as he was convicted of being an accessory after the fact.
“My findings conclude that by the time the security officers embarked on the search for Kalafatis, they intended to take his life. They had already formed in their minds to kill Kalafatis. This circumstance, from the onset, was accompanied by malice aforethought,” noted Newman in his judgment, read to a packed court.
He dismissed the defence’s arguments of self defence, noting that Kalafatis did not know that the police or the Botswana Defence Force members were after him and, as such, was unlikely to pose any threat to the officers.
“Kalafatis did not pose any threat and, from the statements deduced in this court, nothing proves he was aware the security agents, including the Botswana Defence Force, were on his heels,” Newman read.
He continued: “It is on record that by the time the shooting took place there were no live bullets underneath Kalafatis passenger seat. But the accused persons gave contradictory statements to the effect,” he observed, adding, “Different testimonies by the accused persons bring their credibility into questions.”
Newman further observed that the four live bullets found in the vehicle Kalafatis was using were a cover up of their transgressions.
While he embraced the murder charge of the trio, Newman was convinced of the extenuating circumstances as spelled out by the defence lawyer, Thabiso Nfila, thereby passing a lesser sentence than the death penalty.
Nfila noted that, besides the absence of premeditation in their actions, the accused acted on the confused spur of the moment.┬á┬á┬á
“They believed that he was armed, and reasonably so, because Kalafatis was a dangerous person with a warrant of arrest issued on him for armed robbery,” Nfila said to the court in an attempt to convince the judge to reduce his clients’ blameworthiness.
Sentencing has been scheduled for June 17th.