A month after his appeal against death sentence was upheld by the Court of Appeal judges in Lobatse, Loeto Baitsholedi, from Samuchima in the Okavango Delta, is still trying to pick up the pieces of his life, battered four years ago when he was arrested and charged with murder he did not commit.
Speaking to the Sunday Standard in a telephone interview from Maun where he is still residing with some members of his family, Baitsholedi said that he is happy that he is back amongst his people and for that he thanks his lawyer, Magraca Ngomme, who had believed him the first time he told him that he knew nothing about the charges he was facing.
“Ngomme did a great job and I greatly thank him for what he did from the first day we met,” he said.
Baitsholedi said that his family was very excited to see him back and that some of them even cried.
“Every member of my family and friends were happy that I had returned home after the ordeal that I went through,” he said.
Asked if he had met any of the family members of the deceased, he said that he had just seen one of the relatives passing some distance from him but that he did not react in any strange manner.
On why he had not returned to Samuchima, where the murder took place, he said that it was just because he was still looking for employment in Maun as there are no job opportunities.
He denied that this has anything to do with him fearing that the relatives of the deceased might want to harm him for the crime he was acquitted of.
“I do not think they will harm me even if I returned there tomorrow,” he said.
He said that whilst on bail, he had at one stage returned to Samuchima and that no one raised a finger against him.
“I once went there whilst I was on bail and they never harmed me. That is why I believe they will not do so this time around,” he stressed.
Baitsholedi said his stay on death row was a bit boring but that he and the others always had things to talk about. Asked what they generally talked about, he said that they spoke about life in general, adding that he and his closest friend on death row, Kedisaletse Thobane, who was executed last year, spoke about Christianity as they were both Christians. He said they discussed about how some priests in churches are fakes who always claim that they have powers to heal people and to get them out of problems when they did not.
He said the execution of Thobane, who was sentenced to death for killing his daughter, was the most touching thing for him.
Baitsholedi said that when Thobane was being led away, he told him to keep praying so that he did not end up like him.
He said that Thobane was taken away by prison wardens at around 6 o’clock in the morning and that he did not fight or scream.
“He just let them take him away without a fight or screaming,” he said. “His execution touched me so much that I forgot about the problems I was facing.”
Baitsholedi says his priority right now is to get a job, preferably with a safari company as he likes outdoor life.
Court of Appeal judges upheld his appeal on grounds that there is a possibility that another hand, not his, had killed the deceased person by shooting him with a gun.
Baitsholedi had apparently borrowed the same gun when he went out looking for his donkeys.