Kgosikwena Sebele, currently serving a five-year prison sentence for stealing a billy-goat, was on Wednesday granted leave of appeal to the court of appeal by judge Lot Moroka, who said he that he saw prospects of success in the case.
“In determining the merits and demerits of this case, the court has to apply its mind to the central provision of claim of right…whether the appellant intended to defraud the owner of his property or not,” said Moroka, adding that from his convictions, nothing suggested the applicant wanted to deceive.
Sebele convincingly identified his goat and his statement of identification was reinforced by his former herdboy who indicated that the goat belonged to him.
Moroka said the herd boy’s acknowledgement persuasively prompted Sebele to mistakenly believe the goat was his, maintaining the law protects such abnormality.
He did not buy identification statements as posited by the prosecution witnesses who would not even identify prominent colour features found in the goat in question, notably a white forehead and a pierced ear.
“The applicant convincingly identified his goat by the white forehead and even identified a hole in its ear as a result of ear tag while the defence witness never came up with such notable marks,” said Moroka, who was sitting in for Ian Kirby who has since been elevated to the upper bench.
When he heard Sebele’s last appeal, Kirby upheld the conviction of the Molepolole magistrate court and even went a step further and added another year to make it a five-year mandatory sentence as stipulated in the Stock Theft Act.
Moroka noted that the Magistrate Court and the High Court never noticed the discrepancies that existed between both parties, saying the applicant’s evidence was diluted by his former herdboy, who reneged from his earlier statement, while the situation is also not helped by the prosecution side whose story is also doubtful.
“Caught in this difficult scenario the court has nothing to do save to extend an olive branch to the accused person,” Moroka further noted.
By taking the herdboy with him to Lophephe to identify the goat, Sebele wanted to prove to the world that he was not into any mischief and, further, he also had meetings with the tribal chief of the area regarding the matter.
“His was an innocent and honest claim,” the judge concluded, granting the former Bakwena deputy chief, who has so far spent almost two years in jail, leave to appeal to the court of appeal.
Represented by private attorney Kgosietsile Ngakayagae, Sebele intends filling application of bail pending appeal soon. His imprisonment saw him lose his position as president of court appeal while his royal blood was dragged into the mud.