Thursday, January 21, 2021

Lawyers appeal against clients’ death sentences and convictions

Ookeditse Maphakwane and Duma Boko, the lawyers representing two condemned convicts, Michael Molefe and Brandon Sampson, have filed appeals in the Court of Appeals asking that their clients’ sentences be quashed and their convictions be set aside.

Maphakwane, representing the first condemned prisoner, Molefe, said that the judge who was presiding over the matter, Maruping Dibotelo, had erred in law because he had admitted and acted upon evidence of his client’s admissible confession statement when there was overwhelming evidence that the confession statement was not freely and voluntarily made.

Maphakwane also said that the judge erred by not finding that the state had failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt against Molefe. Further to that, he said the judge had failed to consider that the ballistics expert had failed to conclusively link recovered fire arms with the deceased and Molefe.
Dibotelo, he also said, had failed to consider the adverse evidence impact of accomplice witness’s withdrawal from further testifying for prosecution.
He said that the conviction of his client goes against the entire case. On the issue of judgment, he said that the judge had fundamentally erred in law by failure to find that there were more than one extenuating circumstance in favour of Molefe.

Maphakwane further said that the judge had erred in law and gravely misdirected himself by finding that extenuating circumstances were by far outweighed by aggravating circumstances, adding that he had legally failed to exercise his discretion judicially by not considering that the death penalty was not appropriate against Molefe.

In the circumstances of the entire case, he said that the judge erred in law by not considering and acting on Molefe’s mitigation factors raised in his mitigation and plea. Maphakwane prayed that his client’s judgment be set aside and his client be acquitted and discharged or the death sentence be set aside and replaced with imprisonment.
For his part, Duma Boko, representing Sampson, also said that the judge had erred by finding that and admitting his client’s evidence and holding that it was made voluntarily when evidence shows that it was not.

His client, he said, was clearly not involved in any wrong doing but that he was acting in self defence.

He also said that the judge had erred and misdirected himself in finding that Sampson had acted jointly with common intent with Molefe in this matter, adding that the judge erred in finding that Sampson knew that Molefe was armed with a gun when they went to the deceased’s house. This, he said, was unsustainable, especially in view of the fact that the charge of conspiracy, which had involved Sampson, had fallen when others who were also charged were acquitted.

Boko said that the judge had erred in relying on the evidence of blood group to prove the case against his client when evidence was of insignificant scientific nature.

Finally, he said that charges against his client should be quashed and set aside.

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