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Principal chief meets fate
22 March 2024 | 08:24

After waiting for weeks to be sentenced, Principal Chief of Tebang and Tsakholo Chief Khoabane Mojela finally met his fate as the court sentenced him to 27 years imprisonment.

The sentence comes after he was found guilty of the murder of Tsenolo Letsie whom he shot on May 18 2020 at Tsakholo in Mafeteng thus causing his death which occurred later after the shooting.

During the sentencing and in line with restorative justice incorporating customary laws, the court directed him to raise the head of the deceased and compensate his family with four cattle or the market value of that.

In her remarks, a judge presiding over the matter Justice Mabatsoeneng Hlaele stated that in Lesotho when a chief commits a crime, it is expected that his office should not exonerate him from being given a punishment. She indicated that courts always guard against having a populistic mentality.

She said punishment should fit the crime and the criminal, adding that it should be fair to the society. She stated that Basotho believed in the sanctity of life.

She pointed out that a chief is a head of administration adding that Basotho holds the office of the chief in high esteem. She added that the chief is viewed as a custodian of every Mosotho.

She emphasised that the court cannot ignore the status and office which the accused holds as he is the Principal Chief, not an ordinary man in the country. She added that the Chieftainship Act confirms that he is a person held in high regard.

The judge however indicated that she cannot ignore the demeanour she saw in the accused throughout the trial. She said the accused respected the court. She added that although he was not openly remorseful, he was not arrogant. She further added that he even offered to compensate the family of the deceased, further adding that the gesture is viewed as remorse by Basotho. 

The judge pointed out that his hatred for the deceased was caused by his urge for justice. She emphasised that he believed things had to be done the right way adding that he hated corruption.

The court has in this matter, previously made a finding that there are extenuating circumstances, thus ruled out hanging of the accused as his punishment. It stated that the accused lived in a rural Mafeteng where people believe in witchcraft. It further stated that his belief in witchcraft might have caused him anxiety.

The finding was made after the defence argued that the accused was motivated by his belief in witchcraft. They added that he felt threatened further adding that he believed that he was going to be killed through witchcraft as he said the deceased was consulting witchdoctors against him.

The court had also made a finding that there is lack of planning on the part of the accused.

According to evidence before court, on the day the deceased was shot, the accused found the deceased at one of the local shops at Tsakholo with its owner. It was stated that he greeted the owner excluding the deceased whom he was not in talking terms with.

It was added that he asked the deceased why he was looking at him. It was further added that he further asked him why he was consulting witchdoctors to harm him.   

It was revealed that the accused and the deceased were not in talking terms as the deceased had bribed the father of the accused in order to make him a chief. It was added that when the accused took over the office of the Principal Chief, he removed the deceased from office and placed a rightful owner.

The evidence showed that after he shot the deceased, the accused went to a police station where he reported the shooting and handed over his gun which he used to commit the crime. 

It was indicated that the deceased was taken to a clinic from where he was transferred to Mafeteng Hospital. It was added that he was later transferred to Queen Mamohato Memorial Hospital where he was admitted and treated for days after which he was discharged. It was further added that he later developed complications and was taken to Ntsekhe Hospital where he met his death.  

The accused was represented by Advocate Jafta Thamae while the prosecution was represented by Adv. Lehlanako Mofilikoane.