MASERU — Four men who murdered a suspected stock thief for calling them women and “oversized underpants” were on Thursday each jailed for 10 years.
The four — Moeketsi Molise, Moeketsi Lesooana, Mari Lesooana and Tankiso Cheli from Majaheng in Berea — were immediately locked up.
The crime happened in 2000.
The court heard how the four men fatally assaulted and shot Sekoche Mphaka who they accused of stealing their livestock.
The convicts were members of the village anti-stock theft committee and on the day of the incident they were searching for two sheep and two donkeys that had been stolen from their village.
They suspected Mphaka had stolen the livestock.
And when they confronted him Mphaka allegedly insulted them.
In her judgment High Court judge Lisebo Chaka-Makhooane said the four had no reason to kill the suspect even after he had insulted them.
“They are members of an anti-stock theft (group). They were insulted by the accused who called them basali (women) and limere-mere (oversized underpants), so it offended them as they are initiates. They regarded it as degrading,” Justice Chaka-Makhooane said.
“Being insulted is no reason to kill anyone.
“If (this kind of action is) allowed we would be creating a barbaric society.
“The court has to ensure that the accused understand that no one can take the life of another person as they like.
“The accused must be punished in a meaningful way.”
The four’s lawyer, Selebalo Lekokoto, pleaded with the court to be lenient with his clients saying they had families to look after and that they were first offenders.
He said they had committed the crime in a fit of rage after the suspect had insulted them.
Justice Chaka-Makhooane said she had considered these extenuating circumstances.
“I have taken into consideration that they are first offenders, that they have families, children and grandchildren to look after and are remorseful,” she said.
“The case has been hanging over their heads for 10 years. (The) court has taken notice of that.
“They were reckless forgetting that their original plan was to bring him to book.
“They were now baying for his blood and assault was not enough.
“The accused should be reminded that life is sacred and it ought not to be taken anyhow.
“It is the duty of the court to ensure that people are protected.”
Justice Chaka-Makhooane said the accused have families which they must provide for but the deceased also had a family and children who depended on him.
“Each accused is therefore sentenced to 10 years in prison,” she ruled.
Kananelo Khoboko represented the crown.