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Mother-killer appeals sentenc


Lekhetho Ntsukunyane

Chief Sekonyela (28), who was convicted of killing his mother, ’Makatleho, eight years ago and sentenced to 20 years in jail in April 2012, on Friday appeared before the Court of Appeal challenging the ruling.

Sekonyela fatally shot his mother on 21 July 2006 at the family’s Thabong residence in Maseru, with presiding High Court judge, Justice Nthomeng Majara, noting when passing sentence: “This is one of the most unfortunate cases in my career as a judge because not only was the murder committed by a man against his mother in the presence of her daughters, but also deprived children of their parent.”

However, Sekonyela, who was in leg-irons and guarded by heavily-armed prison officers when he was brought to the court on Friday, wants a review of his sentence on the grounds that the shooting was not premeditated.

Sekonyela’s lawyer, Advocate Letuka Molati, submitted the case could best be described as “an unfortunate reign of death within the Sekonyela family, which started with the death of the appellant’s father, then his brother under mysterious circumstances in which the offenders were never known or brought to book until death permeated the family so gravely that it culminated in the loss of life of the woman of the house at the hands of her son…”

Advocate Molati told the court he was not disputing the fact that Sekonyela killed his mother.

“It was common cause that at the time of the unfortunate shooting, the accused (Sekonyela) was residing at the parental home and that he was about 20 years old.

“There was no clearly defined motive for what may have been the cause of the shooting, save the accused’s version that he feared she was going to kill him also, per the deceased words to the accused, as in his view, to add on, the deceased is the one who allegedly killed or arranged the killing of his father and brother.

“We submit that it is common cause and has been so from the onset, that the accused is the one who shot the deceased. We submit however, that the evidence discloses no premeditation on the part of the accused.

“The accused, though he did not testify in his defence, did highlight the fact that the fatal shooting was prompted by the fact that he had come to make peace with the deceased but was met with threats that he would die, following in the footsteps of his father and brother and in that heat of passion and emotionally charged state of mind, the accused shot the deceased.”

Sekonyela, Advocate Molati argued, did not premeditate the shooting of his mother. “To this extent, we submit that this honourable court could correctly, in our humble submission, arrive at a different conclusion on the facts.

“We however, submit that on the comparative analysis of the sentence passed in other cases, the unique facts at hand being considered, this honourable court should exercise its discretion and all facts considered, consider substituting the sentence of 20 years imposed by the court a quo (court below) with at least 15 years imprisonment.”

However, Advocate Thapelo Mokuku, for the prosecution, shot down the submissions pointing out the 20-year sentence was not even enough for the offense.

“This has been a lenient sentence considering the cold-blooded murder he committed against a member of the family. Actually, this is a hanging case. The accused deserved to have been sentenced to hang. This is a murder case whose sentence equals life-imprisonment at least.”

Meanwhile, the Court of Appeal is expected to pass its ruling on the matter on Friday this week.



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