A MULTIPLE murderer has been spared the hangman’s noose after the Court of Appeal on Friday commuted his three death sentences to life sentences on the grounds that he had stayed too long on death row awaiting execution.
Tello Mabusela was found guilty of the 5 September 2010 murder of one Tello Mabusela who was the manager of Astoria Bakery, Maseru at the time. He murdered Mr Mabusela for allegedly failing to pay his sister’s severance package after retrenching her from the bakery.
He was also found guilty of murdering Thabang Malikoe and his girlfriend ‘Malerato Maphate at Lithoteng, Maseru in October 2010.
Mabusela was convicted by High Court Judge Thamsanqa Nomngcongo who had sentenced him in September 2013 for the crimes.
But Mabusela has remained on death row ever since. Lesotho has not executed any prisoners since the 1990s due to various factors including the absence of an executioner.
His death sentences were on Friday commuted to life sentences by Court of Appeal Judge Phillip Musonda. The three life sentences will run concurrently.
“The death penalties imposed by the High Court are set aside,” Justice Musonda said.
“He (Mabusela) is sentenced to life imprisonment on each of the three murders.
“The life sentences are to run concurrently, meaning that he will serve one life sentence from the date of sentencing by the High Court.”
In commuting the sentences, Justice Musonda said although the murders were brutal, the non-execution of the sentences since September 2013 had to be taken into consideration. He said the appeal had been delayed for a very long time due to missing records related to the initial High Court proceedings. He said due to the delay in executing the sentences, doing so now would be a violation of the convict’s constitutional right as enshrined in Section 8 (1) of the constitution.
Titled “freedom from inhuman treatment”, the said section states that “no person shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading punishment or other treatment”.
Justice Musonda took the view that executing Mabusela after so long would be inhuman treatment of the convicted murderer.