Tito Sibiya, a Tutume man who was last week found guilty of hacking his lover to death with a sickle in 2008, escaped the hangman’s noose when Francistown High Court Judge Justice Mpaphi Phumaphi, sentenced him to seven years in prison.
When passing judgment, Justice Phumaphi said that though murder is a serious crime that is punishable by death, Sibiya‘s case is different in that it bears some extenuating factors.
He said that the court had decided not to impose a stiff sentence on the accused, after looking into the blame worthiness of the matter.
“While we are cognizant of the gravity of the offense that the accused has committed, we also have to consider the factors that led to the accused committing this crime, so that we pass judgment that is proportionate to the charge,” he said.
Sibiya murdered his girlfriend, Julia Nthomola, on the 26th of April 2008 after their relationship went sour.
While employed as a painter in Molepolole, Sibiya is said to have gone to Tutume for his holidays. At one point Nthomola, who was then a business woman, failed to show up after work.
One of their children, who had spent the day with her mother, returned to the family home and, on being quizzed by Sibiya about the whereabouts of her mother, said that she left her at the Tutume Bus Rank.
The deceased is said to have spent the night away, after which Sibiya approached her uncles and relatives, asking them to ask her to change her behavior.
One of the uncles advised him to report the matter to the police. Nthomola eventually showed up the next day and, on being asked where she spent the night, she replied that she was at a friend’s house.
A misunderstanding erupted, with the uncle trying to mediate for peace. The wife continued to spend most of her nights out of the family home, until the accused followed her in secrecy and eventually discovered that she had a relationship. An incensed Sibiya would then tail his girlfriend on one of her clandestine appointments, whereupon he cornered her into the bush and hacked her to death with a sickle. He was later arrested and made a confession statement indicating that he indeed murdered the deceased.
Sibiya, who pleaded guilty to the murder charge, told the court that he had pleaded with the deceased to change her behavior but to no avail.
State counsel, Nomsa Moatswi, submitted that although the accused was a first offender, there has been a malicious aforethought in the killing of the deceased.
The defense on the other hand submitted that the accused’s guilty plea is a sign of remorse, and pleaded with the court to show mercy when passing judgment.
They also begged the court to consider that the accused is a first offender who also has children to take care of.