MASERU — A 51-year-old Mohale’s Hoek man accused of murdering a fellow villager three years ago has been found guilty of the lesser charge of culpable homicide.
Justice Maseforo Mahase on Monday convicted Katiba Khitšane of fatally stabbing Teboho Motsamai on September 2 2007.
Khitšane, who will be sentenced in the High Court on Tuesday, escaped the murder charge due to extenuating circumstances.
“The court is convinced the defendant did not have a clear head on the day of the crime, because he was drunk,” Justice Mahase told the court.
“He had no intention to kill but is nonetheless found guilty of culpable homicide.”
The judge said the defendant’s furious reaction was both “unprovoked and unreasonable”, as confirmed by state witnesses.
“According to witnesses, people were drinking at ‘Mabesele Khitšane’s residence on the day of the crime,” Justice Mahase said.
“(‘Mabesele) Khitšane testified in court he saw Motsamai asking for some tobacco from the accused.
“He said Motsamai then went to buy some matches at a local café.
“It is the crown’s evidence that the accused followed him and ‘Mabesele then heard some screaming and went outside to find out what was happening.
“The witness saw Motsamai bleeding from the chest and saw the accused standing nearby.”
According to Justice Mahase, the accused wa not convincing in his testimony.
“Motsamai did not provoke the accused in any way,” the judge said.
“When asked by ‘Mabesele why he had killed a man in his yard, the accused hurriedly left the scene without saying a word.
“He was holding a pocket knife.
“It is common cause Motsamai died at the scene of the crime.
“The accused said he was insulted.
“He said Motsamai struck him on the back twice, in full view of people who were drinking at the shebeen.
“The defendant also talked of a conspiracy against him because of an alleged adulterous relationship between Motsamai and one of the witnesses.
“But the court fails to understand the accused’s actions, which were unreasonable and unjustified.
“People had been drinking; the accused’s story is not tenable. It is not true.”
Defence lawyer Tšolo Kalaki, in mitigation, said the accused should be given a lenient sentence because he had children and a wife to take care of.
But crown counsel Hlalefang Motinyane said the accused should be given a lengthy jail term in order to send a “strong message” that courts are there to protect members of society.