Saturday, July 2, 2022

Soldier gets seven years jail sentence for shooting girlfriend’s mother

A 39-year-old Botswana Defence Force soldier, Batsile Kesupile, was last week sentenced to seven years imprisonment by the Francistown High Court for causing grievous bodily harm to his girlfriend’s mother. He shot the woman with a service rifle.

According to the charge sheet, on the 5th of January 2010, Kesupile, who was based at the Area S military base in Francistown, shot Cecelia Mphathela in Tonota Village after a conflict with his girlfriend.
Mphathela is the mother to his girlfriend.

The facts of the case are that, on that day, Kesupile, who was at a camp based at Tshukudu Range in Matsiloje Village, stole a Fabric National (FN) service rifle belonging to his colleague.

He then proceeded to Tonota Village and went to the complainant’s place. He found the complainant in her yard and shot her near the house of his girlfriend. As a result of the shooting, the complainant sustained a fracture on the right arm and was taken to Nyangabwe Referral Hospital for medical assistance.

The accused then absconded and later handed himself to the police on the 8th of January 2010 when he led the police to a place where he had hidden the rifle. The rifle was then taken to the forensic laboratory in Gaborone for tests and it turned out to be the weapon that was used in the criminal offence. The accused was then warned and cautioned and charged.

Kesupile pleaded guilty to the offence.

Giving evidence during court proceedings, Kesupile said that he shot the complainant, because his girlfriend was cheating on him and the complainant was the main influence.

“I have three children with my girlfriend and she began cheating on me. I was staying with her family and the mother was a bad influence to her daughter despite the fact that I took care of the family and the children,” he said.

Kesupile said that that he tried to talk to the complainant about her daughter’s behaviour and she only promised to resolve the issue only to find out that she was the influence.

He said that he committed the offence because he was now jealous and he felt used by the girlfriend and her mother.

His lawyer, Keitshekile Sechele, told court during trial that there are extenuating factors in the matter reducing the blameworthiness of the accused.

“It is clear that the offence was committed due to an element of jealousy. There has been also an element of provocation from the complainant,” he said.

The lawyer added that the complainant had an obligation to play her role as a parent to make sure that the accused and her girlfriend lived harmoniously together, especially that she accepted him in her yard as part of the family.

Sechele pleaded with the court to show leniency when sentencing the accused as he was a first offender. He also said that the accused was remorseful for his deeds as evidenced by his plea of guilt thereby not wasting the court’s time.

“After the commission of the offence, the accused handed himself to the police. A stiff sentence would lead to the accused losing his job and, as a result, his three children would suffer as he is the breadwinner. The accused will learn a lesson from his deeds, therefore I plead with this honourable court to temper justice with mercy,” he said.

Passing sentence, Justice Modiri Letsididi agreed with the defence that they were extenuating factors in the matter and also acknowledged the mitigating grounds submitted by the defence.

“I found out that there are extenuating factors in the matter and also bear in mind the mitigation as raised by the defence,” said the presiding judge.

Justice Letsididi, however, ruled that causing grievous bodily harm is a very serious offence and the complainant’s injury is very serious.

“It is evident that she is still struggling with the injury,” he said.

The judge also said that the accused as a soldier who has been in the army for 17 years would have known better that a gun could cause serious injuries or even death. He said that the interest of the society should also be taken into consideration.

“I therefore sentence the accused to seven years imprisonment and he has the right to appeal within six weeks from today,” pronounced the judge.

The state was represented by Kenneth Dick from the Directorate of Public Prosecution.

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