Francistown High Court has sentenced Atlholang Mujangi, a former police officer, to death for murder.
Popularly known as “Two-metre” in social circles, Mujangi was condemned for the 2014 murder of his ex-girlfriend Bokani Socks, a nurse at Nyangabwe Referral Hospital. The case was before Francistown High Court Judge Lot Moroka.
According to the evidence before court, on the 4th of January 2014 the accused was deployed at Ramokgwebana Border Post by the Botswana Police Services. He phoned the deceased (Socks) and arranged a date with her at Nandos Gallo Mall in Francistown.
She arrived at Galo from Tati Siding where she lived around 6pm in the evening. Before her arrival the accused had gone to Nandos to order meals for both of them. After her arrival they sat in the car he was driving while awaiting the preparation of the meals. When the estimated time for the readiness of the meal arrived, Mujangi handed the receipt to the deceased and asked her to walk to Nandos to collect the meal.
He did so to avoid being seen with the deceased. When the deceased came back with the meal, Mujangi suggested to her that they take a drive out of town. The deceased agreed and he drove the car along Matsiloje Road past Donga BDF camp where he took a turn into the bush and parked the car.
They sat in the car and ate the meal. Meanwhile the accused was hiding a knife which he intended to kill her with under the seat of the car. After the duo had finished the meal, he suggested to the deceased that they take a walk. The deceased agreed and as she alighted from the vehicle, he took a knife under the car seat. He caused her to walk ahead with the intention to stab her from behind.
As they were walking Mujangi took out a knife and stabbed her on the cheek. The deceased tried to escape but he caught up with her and throttled her around the neck until she passed out. He then took a rock and smashed her head. To make sure she was dead, he piled wood and plastics on her and set her body alight. He then fled the scene and drove back to Ramokgwebana. The skeletal remains of the deceased were later found on the 26th of January 2014 by a member of the BDF who was jogging on a gravel road along Matsiloje road. The remains were sent to a Forensic Pathologist who confirmed that indeed they belonged to the deceased.
The accused pleaded not guilty to the offence during trial in court. Taking to the witness stand to testify in court he denied killing the deceased. He even denied ever meeting the deceased during the fateful evening. He however capitulated and admitted to have met her but said after she informed her that she was pregnant by another man, he smoked dagga mixed with ARV’s, took some ecstasy tablets and passed out. He claimed that during the fateful day she left him in the car.
Despite his denial, the court found that there was overwhelming evidence against the accused and was convicted on a single count of murder. In founding him guilty, the court relied mostly on the evidence given by Pastor Milidzani Socks where the accused made a confession that he killed the deceased. The pastor alerted the police who assisted him to record the accused confession statement.
He had told the Pastor that he did not want to be seen with or linked to the disappearance of the deceased. Pastor Socks covertly used a voice recorder which he had been given by the Police Detective to use. The recording was used as evidence in court by the state. The pastor had asked him why he killed the deceased and he confided in him that the deceased was pregnant with another man’s child and that she refused to have a child with him because of his health status.
Prior to the horrific incident, the deceased had also written a note that she was going to meet the accused on the 3rd of January 2014. It was used as evidence in court.
Police investigators also sought the assistance of cell phone service providers such as Mascom and Orange to establish if there was any telephonic contact between the accused and the deceased. This evidence was established and was also admitted before court. All this mounting evidence helped the court in linking the accused to the gruesome crime. There was also evidence in court that the deceased had been in an abusive love relationship with the accused.
Defence counsel, Kgololesego Segabo in part of his submissions on extenuation argued that there is no evidence of premeditation and that upon hearing from the deceased that she was pregnant by another man, the accused was filled with anger and emotion including a strong feeling of rejection.
However, during sentencing Justice Moroka said it is clear from the evidence that the decision to kill by the accused was made even before he heard news of his pregnancy. Segabo had also sought to argue that because the deceased rejected the accused to have a child with her, this caused him emotional distress and caused him to take alcohol and drugs. Justice Moroka could not take any of this assertion.
“I rejected this suggestion in the main judgment as not reasonably possibly true for among other reasons the absence of factual foundation on it. At no time before or after the death of the deceased was there ever any need for the accused to be treated for depression or drug abuse. Absolutely no witness was called to attest to this claim,” said the Judge.
As part of his sentence Moroka expressed concern over murder cases between love partners, the majority of which are perpetrated by men over women. He said it is important to note that all relationships are susceptible to ending for one reason or another and at the instance of any of the two parties.
“It cannot be our law that the decision of one partner to end the relationship should be met with death and when this happens the distress caused by the break up would constitute an extenuating circumstance,” Moroka told court.
He said it was evident that the accused had premeditated and pre-planned her murder and executed it in cold blood. He maintained that there were no extenuating circumstances in the case. Justice Moroka said the depth of the accused’s blameworthiness and the impact of his criminal deeds on society in general and the deceased family in particular demands a deterrent sentence. In conclusion he sentenced the accused to death.
“You have the right to appeal against both conviction and sentence within six weeks from today,” said the Judge. The State was represented L. Kabecha from the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP).