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No joy for mother killer


Lekhetho Ntsukunyane

CHIEF Sekonyela, who killed his mother eight years ago, will serve the full 20-year sentence imposed by the High Court in April 2012 after the Court of Appeal dismissed his appeal against the ruling last Friday.

Sekonyela (28) shot his mother, ’Makatleho, at the family’s Thabong residence in Maseru on 21 July 2006, with presiding judge, Justice Nthomeng Majara, noting when passing the 20-year 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.”

Sekonyela’s appeal was heard on 24 October this year, with his lawyer, Letuka Molati, arguing the shooting was not premeditated.

Advocate 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”.

The lawyer further told the court he was not disputing that Sekonyela killed his mother, but simply that he had not planned the shooting.

“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 also going to kill him,  per the deceased’s words to the accused, as in his view, the deceased is the one who allegedly killed or arranged the killing of his father and brother,” Advocate Molati argued.

“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 insisted, did not plan the shooting, hence the appeal.

“To this extent, we submit that this honourable court could correctly, in our humble submission, arrive at a different conclusion.

“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 consider substituting the sentence of 20 years with at least 15 years imprisonment.”

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

“This has been a lenient sentence considering the cold-blooded murder he committed against a member of the family,” stated Advocate Mokuku.

“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, when handing down the ruling in the Court of Appeal last Friday, Justice R.B. Cleaver noted: “It seems that counsel (Advocate Molati) intended, in his submission, to mean that the killing was not premeditated.

“In support of this, counsel submitted that the appellant (Sekonyela) had come to make peace with the deceased to reconcile family differences but was met with threats that he would die following in the footsteps of his father and brother.

“No evidence whatsoever to support this version was put before the court and the submission cannot be accepted.  In my view, in the absence of any evidence by the accused, the inference to be drawn from his actions that fateful morning was irresistible, namely that he intended to kill his mother when he fired three shots at her from close range with a powerful gun.

“In my view, there is no merit in the appeal against the conviction. The appeal is dismissed and the judgment and sentence of the High Court is confirmed.”

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