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Illegal guns: two escape jail by a whisker

Sello Morake


MASERU — Two men from Nazareth have escaped doing time although they had been convicted of unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition.

Tankiso Thamae was on March 19 found by police in possession of an unlicensed 9mm Norinco pistol and two bullets, while Ntja Leeto was also found in possession of an unlicensed .38 Special pistol on the same day.

Both men pleaded guilty as charged.

They were each slapped sentences of one year in jail or an alternative fine of M1 000 when they appeared in the Maseru Magistrate’s Court on Monday.

In mitigation, Thamae, a taxi driver, told the court he had acquired the firearm from a member of the Lesotho Defence Force because he wanted to protect himself while on duty.

“I got both the gun and ammunition from a soldier so that I could protect myself because I was once mugged on my way from work,” he said.

“I travel a long distance home from where I park my vehicle.”

Thamae asked for clemency, telling Magistrate Molemo Monethi he looked after his wife and two children.

“In addition, my parents are late and I have siblings at school who also look up to me for support.”

Leeto, meanwhile, also told the court he had obtained the gun because he wanted to protect his livestock from armed rustlers.

“I ask the court for mercy because I’m unemployed as I got injured while working in the mines in Welkom where I bought the gun,” he said.

“My sheep and horses were stolen by armed men. That is why I bought the firearm as I wanted to protect my livestock.”

The magistrate, who appeared incensed by the accused’s testimonies, asked investigating officers what was being done about allegations the firearms and ammunition had been obtained from members of the army.

One of the investigators told the court the matter had already been reported to the military police and relevant authorities.

The crown was represented by Steve Thaba.

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