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Ten jailed for mob justice

Nat Molomo

TEN Maseru men were recently found guilty and sentenced to 15 years in jail each for assaulting businessman Simon Maoela Mashapa in 17 September 2009.

Mr Mashapa later died as a result of the assault. While sentencing the 10 on Wednesday, the Acting Chief Justice, ‘Maseforo Mahase, expressed concern at the high rate of murders in the country saying, “people kill each with impunity”.

Justice Mahase sentenced the 10 to 15 years in jail without the option of paying fines for the crime that was committed in 2009.

The 10 criminals are Tebello Mothobi, Moeketsi Mothepu, Motebang Sehlabaka, Ramots’eoa Letele, Ts’epo Marole, Fani Maphasa, Lethole Mothobi, Ramafikeng Motsie, Karabo Nyakane and Teboho Shelane.

There were initially 12 suspects but one of them, Moeketsi Mokhathi, died before the trial commenced while Mahlomola Mosuhli was discharged at the end of the Crown’s case because there was no evidence linking him to the crime.

The criminals assaulted Mr Mashapa on 17 September 2009 in Ha Teko, Maseru allegedly because he (Simon) had killed their friend, a Mr White of Lithabaneng in Maseru.

The 10 convicts forcibly took the late Mr Mashapa from his shop in Ha Motloheloa in a van to the Mohokare River and they assaulted him in the course of the journey with a slasher, a hammer, a screw driver and a tomahawk.

And accomplice-turned-witness, Napo Makuba-kube, told the court that he was the driver of his parents’ van which was in the commission of the crime. Mr Makuba-kube said he drove the convicts to Ha Motloheloa where they fetched the deceased.

“In Ha Motloheloa, we parked at the shop of the now deceased and some (of the convicts) went to fetch him (Mr Mashapa).

“I remained in the van while still there Motsie came back and told me that they had found Simon (the now deceased Mr Mashapa). They were pulling Simon and asking him about the death of White… They were assaulting Simon.

“As he was being assaulted, he was constantly asked about the death of White and he kept denying (that he had killed him),” Mr Makuba-kube said, adding the assault continued when they got to the Phuthiatsana River near the Makhoathi village in Maseru.

“It happened that while he (Mr Mashapa) was being assaulted he fell into the water. When he was taken out and brought back into the vehicle, he was still alive. We then drove to Ha Teko and he was thrown into the river from the bridge,” Mr Makuba-kube further said.

But the convicts denied assaulting the deceased and causing his death.

Despite pleading not guilty to the charge, Justice Mahase still found them guilty and sentenced them to 15 years in jail each.

In passing sentence, Justice Mahase said “even though the accused had good intentions to arrest the deceased and hand him to the police, it still did not justify them attacking the deceased.

“What is most disturbing to the court is that the accused decided to take the law into their own hands. They were too many of them against one person and the evidence is that they overcame him by assaulting him indiscriminately.

“No one has the right to assault another and finally kill irrespective of the circumstances. This court is concerned about the high rate of murders in this country. In recent times people in this country are killing each other with impunity,” Justice Mahase said before handing the convicts the 15-year jail terms.

“I have come to the conclusion that the appropriate sentence is that of 15 years in prison without an option of paying a fine,” Justice Mahase ruled.

The Crown Counsel Advocate Mofilikoane submitted that 10 should have been found guilty of murder, arguing that, “it does not matter whether it was their common purpose to fetch and arrest the deceased and hand him to the police. The manner in which the intended arrest was carried out was recklessly excessive and dangerous”.


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