Francistown High Court Judge, Abednico Tafa, has lamented the rapid increase in crime in the country, indicating that although some of the perpetrators are given lenient sentences due to extenuating factors in some cases, it seems not to send a message to society.
This emerged last week during a case of murder and unlawful wounding, involving a Letlhakane man, who brutally stabbed a man to death with a knife, wounding his friend.
The pro deo defence lawyer for the accused, Opeyemi Ajoyi of Ajoyi Legal chambers in Selibe Phikwe had pleaded with the court to be lenient with the accused as he is a first offender, had saved court’s time by pleading guilty and had also told court that during the commission of the crime, he was still a youth.
Justice Tafa said that although the law observes extenuating circumstances in any criminal matter, a lot of people continue to violate the law and then try to hide behind these factors.
“In my opinion, I think the judges should be given much discretion to give an appropriate sentence to the convict, depending on the weight of the matter and these soaring cases of murder and other criminal activities should be discouraged,” said Justice Tafa.
The accused, Otlhapile Vasco Gwaegwae, who pleaded guilty to both offences, is alleged to have murdered one Neelo John Alogeng at Kgokonyane cattlepost in Letlhakane on the 25th of December in 2007. The summary of facts from the prosecution reveal that on the said date, the deceased and his wife hosted a party in their home and the accused came with his friends after a drinking spree in another shebeen. He then found one Tabakwee, who was drunk and asleep in the yard, and demanded that he pay the money he owed him.
The deceased then intervened by reprimanding Gwaegwae, advising him that as Tabakwee was too drunk, he should talk to him about his debt the following morning. A quarrel ensued between the two and the deceased then chased the accused from his home, indicating he did not want trouble.
After a short while, the accused then returned to the deceased’s yard and a quarrel erupted again. The accused then allegedly stabbed the deceased in the chest with a knife object. In an attempt to defend himself from the attacker, the deceased took a wooden bench and threw it at the accused but due to the stab wound, he suddenly fell to the ground screaming that he had been stabbed.
The state Prosecutor, Nomsa Moatswi, maintained that by stabbing the deceased with a knife in the chest as confirmed by the forensic scientist, the accused acted in malice aforethought.
She added that there was no legal justification for this act and further said by stabbing the other victim, the accused acted unlawfully.
A post-mortem report, a knife and a photo album were displayed as part of evidence in court.
Judgment and sentence in the matter has been reserved.