MASERU — Two Mazenod men will spend the next three years in jail for beating to death a man they suspected to be a cattle rustler.
The Maseru Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday convicted Tumisang Makoba, 35, and Lebohang Mahloane, 39, of culpable homicide over the death of Phapang Sekaleli in Ha-Ngoatonyane in November 2000.
Their co-accused, Matlakeng Matlakeng, 53, was however acquitted.
The accused, from Ha-Nko in Mazenod, had pleaded not guilty when the case opened before magistrate Litlhaare Mashape on January 4 this year.
The court heard how the accused had assaulted Sekaleli with sticks after suspecting him of stealing their livestock.
Public prosecutor Qinumutsi Tshabalala told the court a witness, Jack Libate, had said in his testimony he saw both Makoba and Mahloane in a mob that was beating Sekaleli.
“While admitting he did not know the reason for the assault, Libate said Sekaleli was still alive when he was taken to one Morena Lesia’s place but had sustained serious injuries,” Tshabalala said.
The prosecution argued that the accused deserved a custodial sentence because of the overwhelming evidence against them.
“I ask for a custodial sentence as Libate’s evidence has not been refuted by the defence,” Tshabalala said.
“The accused played a major role in inflicting the injuries that killed Sekaleli.”
In her judgment, the magistrate said it was clear the accused had taken the law into their own hands.
“The court has observed there is no evidence put up by the defence that really proved the alleged theft,” Mashape said.
“To the contrary, there is an assumption since one of the deceased’s horses was found among the recovered livestock (that) he must have been the culprit.
“A reasonable court cannot exercise its mind and rely on such an assumption that is not backed up by proof.
“There is no evidence to deny Libate saw both Makoba and Mahloane beating the deceased.
“Not a soul among the crowd felt any pity upon the deceased who was being brutally attacked, leading to his death.
“The crown has proved its case beyond reasonable doubt.”