MASERU — The High Court on Friday convicted a 30-year-old man from Ha-Ramabanta of murder.
The prosecution had charged None Motlotloane for killing Jamela Machakela three years ago at Ha-Ramabanta in rural Maseru.
The prosecution said Motlotloane shot Machakela at a village gathering in September 2006.
Motlotloane had told the court during the trial that he acted in self-defence, saying he felt threatened because Machakela was carrying a knife.
He said he was afraid that Machakela could stab him with a knife again as he had stabbed him on the previous day.
But High Court judge ‘Maseforo Mahase on Friday rejected Motlotloane’s defence.
She found him guilty of murder.
“In the circumstances you are found guilty on count one (murder).
“The accused is also found guilty of unlawful possession of a firearm,” Justice Mahase ruled.
Justice Mahase said Motlotloane had premeditated the killing.
“There is no doubt in the mind of this court that the accused had premeditated the killing,” she said.
Justice Mahase said the evidence tendered in court showed that Motlotloane had planned the killing.
Machakela had stabbed Motlotloane with a knife and Motlotloane requested the chief to convene a village gathering at the chief’s place to resolve the conflict between him and Machakela.
But when Motlotloane found Machakela at the chief’s place he began to shoot at him several times — an incident which Justice Mahase said seemed to have been a trap.
“This shows that the accused had set up a plan to kill the deceased,” Justice Mahase said.
Machakela was shot while sitting next to his mother.
Machakela’s mother ‘Malenonyane told the court during the trial that it was a shocking incident.
She is 70.
Justice Mahase also said Motlotloane’s family seemed to have been part of the plan.
“According to the evidence the accused’s family members left the scene immediately after the shooting as if nothing had happened,” Justice Mahase said.
“They are lucky that they were not charged.
“They should have been charged as accessories to the crime.
“They are really lucky.”
Justice Mahase postponed the ruling to next Wednesday for Motlotloane’s lawyer Advocate Mosoeunyane Masiphole to address the court on extenuation.
When the court passed its verdict Motlotloane frowned in shock.
But that was the final decision of the court.
If the court finds no extenuating circumstances, Motlotloane is likely to get the death penalty.
“The accused will remain in prison until the 4th of November when the court will reconvene for extenuation,” Justice Mahase ruled.