Sentencing 24-year-old Gideon Ntema of Maun for murder on Wednesday, Francistown High Court judge, Zibani Makhwade, expressed concern over the commission of crimes by youth who then blame their wayward behaviour on alcohol.
“Many people, especially the youth, commit serious offences and blame it on alcohol as an aggravating factor. Alcohol can have influence on an offence but those who commit offences should be punishable by the law as it is its obligation to maintain good conduct in the society,” said the judge. “Can alcohol reduce the seriousness of an offence and how does voluntary drinking of alcohol reduce moral behaviour? I have asked many counsels these questions and they have not given me a definite answer.”
Makhwade was objecting to mitigation by the defense counsel who had indicated that the accused killed his friend because there were some factors that impacted on the commission of the offence, stating alcohol as one of them. The defense counsel had indicated further that the accused and his friends were heavily drunk during the incident because they had been drinking from morning until late night.
Ntema was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for stabbing his friend with a knife after a drinking spree in 2004.
The incident occurred after an altercation between one Otsile Mafoko and another friend who had had a misunderstanding. The deceased (Mmolotsi Mathithi) tried to intervene to settle the dispute, but was stabbed to death by the accused. The police were alerted but Mathithi was certified dead on arrival at the hospital.
Giving his ruling, Makhwade considered the fact that Ntema was 20 when he committed the crime, that there was no premeditation, was a first offender and that he had shown remorse as proved by the state prosecutor and had even attempted suicide.