Death sentence set aside

Death sentence set aside

MASERU-THE Court of Appeal has set aside a death sentence imposed on Tebello Mabusela for the murder of an Astoria Bakery manager, Thabo Phohleli, and two other individuals 10 years ago.

Mabusela was sentenced to death by the High Court in September 2013.
The High Court found that Mabusela had ordered his victim to pray before he killed him near Phuthiatsana River after he had been kidnapped at his gate in Ha-Thetsane.
But last Friday, a panel of three judges of the Court of Appeal set aside the death sentence and replaced it with four life sentences for three murders and one attempted murder.

Mabusela murdered Phohleli, Thabang Moliko and ’Malerato Maphathe and attempted to kill Thabang Kotelo, who later became the crown witness.
Reading the judgment, Justice Phillip Musonda said a “death penalty is probable when the crime was brutal, cold-blooded, deliberate, unprovoked, fatal, gruesome and wicked, heinous or violent”.

He however said “there is an instinctive revulsion against the prospect of hanging a man after he has been under sentence of death for many years”.
“What gives rise to this instinctive revulsion?” Justice Musonda said.
“The answers can only be our humanity. We regard it as an inhumane act to keep a man facing the agony of execution over a long extended period of time,” he said.

The judge said it is a painful reality that the murders were brutal.
“However, when carrying out a factual enquiry whether extenuating factors exist, the trial judge must consider all the factors that arise from the evidence laid by the prosecution and the prosecution must assist in that enterprise.”

The judge said Mabusela “was deprived of the right of appeal by failure to provide him with the record and the position so remains”.
“Such delay cannot therefore disadvantage the appellant.”
He said “to compensate for years of cruel and inhumane treatment under the real threat of execution, one may disregard the seriousness of the crime”.

“Deadly dangerous predators may even be released at the real risk of public safety. The public must be protected against them by way of appropriate sentences.”
So, Justice Musonda said in view of the delay in the delivery of justice and execution of the death penalty, the death penalties imposed by the High Court are set aside and replaced with four life sentences for three murders and one attempted murder.
The death penalty was never executed because there were no records of the case.

Staff Reporter

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