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Principal Chief handed 27- year jail time for murder

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Relebohile Makhetha

High Court judge Mabatšoeneng Hlaele yesterday delivered a verdict that sentenced Principal Chief of Tebang and Senate member, Khoabane Emmanuel Mojela, to 27 years’ imprisonment.

Additionally, Mojela was ordered to compensate Tšenolo Letsie’s family with either four cows or the equivalent value in money.

This ruling stemmed from Mojela’s conviction for the murder of Letsie, whom he fatally shot at Tšakholo in Mafeteng back in 2020.

He was found guilty of contravening section 40(1) of the Penal Code Act No. 6 of 2010, which stipulates: “Any person who performs any unlawful act or omission with the intention of causing the death of another person, commits the offence of murder if such death results from his or her act or omission.”

During the sentencing, Justice Hlaele emphasised the principles guiding her decision, including deterrence, rehabilitation, retribution, prevention, and reformation.

She underscored the importance of aligning punishment with both the severity of the crime and the individual circumstances.

She stated: “The accused was charged with a serious crime of murder. It is schedule three offences under the criminal offence 1981. The seriousness of murder is the cruelty not only of the act but also of the consequences. It is cruel to the victims, the aftermath is that it leaves the loved ones with a physical and emotional void.”

Referring to the emotional impact on the victim’s widow, Justice Hlaele highlighted the pain caused by Mojela’s actions. She quoted the widow’s description of Mojela as ‘my husband’s murderer,’ emphasising the profound loss experienced by the family.

Justice Hlaele also addressed Mojela’s position as a Principal Chief within Basotho society, highlighting the significance of chieftainship culturally and institutionally.

She quoted Professor Motlamelle Kapa, noting that chiefs fulfill crucial roles in peacekeeping, conflict resolution, and cultural preservation.

“In this view, the court cannot ignore the office which the accused holds. He became a chief not by training, but by birth, meaning that in his formative years he should have been trained for the office that he holds,” she said.

Earlier this year when delivering the verdict that found Mojela guilty of murder, Justice Hlaele stated: “The death of Tšenolo was caused by internal bleeding due to the gunshot, as the post-mortem results report.”

She added: “The police also proved that the gun found is the one used to kill the deceased.”

Furthermore, Justice Hlaele emphasised: “I also found the accused had a motive to kill the deceased. Thereby, I see the deceased resembling Jesus by the time he was getting crucified for something he does not know, as the accused just assumed that the deceased was attacking him, hence, he shot him.”

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