Former soldier gets 8 years for murder

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MASERU — A former soldier who killed his wife’s alleged lover after he found the two in a compromising position at a local lodge was on Monday slapped with an eight-year jail term.
High Court judge Justice Tšeliso Monaphathi convicted Rethabile Mphahama of killing Tanki Bulane, a police officer, on January 10 last year at Molemo Guest House in Ha Tšosane in Maseru.
Mphahama’s wife worked with Bulane at the Police Training College (PTC) in Maseru. Apart from the fact that Bulane was a supervisor to Mphahama’s wife, the two families were also neighbours at the PTC compound.
Justice Monaphathi did not give Mphahama an option of a fine nor did he suspend part of the sentence.
“This is a serious offence. The accused has taken a human life and the deceased will not come back again,” Justice Monaphathi said in his judgment on Monday.
The judge said when Mphahama got to Molemo Guest House he had an option to avoid going into the room that Bulane and his wife occupied.
“To me the accused had a choice not to go to Room Number Two. He should have gone to the receptionist and asked her to call his wife,” Justice Monaphathi said while summing up evidence before sentence.
Justice Monaphathi added that telephone calls made by Bulane to Mphahama’s wife showed that there was a love relationship in “disguise of work, which accused did not suspect”.
“The result as we now know is there was a love affair which resulted in the meeting at the guest house, which resulted in Bulane’s death,” Justice Monaphathi said.
He said the accused was shocked to find that the two were about to have sexual intercourse when he barged into the room.
“Indeed, I believe this brought about stress, trauma and frustration which ended with him being charged and convicted.”
“In the world we live in people are curious and want to see and disaster follows,” he said.
He added that it was a pity because Mphahama “was provoked and was not the cause of the trouble”.
“However, despite this, I sentence you to eight years without an option of fine.”
The judge agreed with Mphahama’s lawyer, Advocate Lepedi Molapo, that things would be worse for him if he was given a custodial sentence.
But he said it was only a strong man who can go to prison and come back still strong to pick up the pieces and start life again.
Earlier on a tearful Mphahama gave an emotional address to the court during mitigation.
He told the court that he felt betrayed by the deceased because he was a friend and neighbour.
“This concerned two people whom I loved, one is my wife and the other was my neighbour,” Mphahama said.
He said the deceased was someone he trusted and used to go and watch local football matches with.
“My wife used to say that among her top superiors, the deceased was someone she was comfortable working with, and she admired him,” he said.
Mphahama begged the court not to send him to jail because his child was still young.
He said a prison term would seriously damage relations between him and his wife.
“I have never been a criminal before this,” Mphahama said.
Mphahama, who is the president of the Lesotho Table Tennis Association and a teacher at ’Mabathoana High School, asked the court not to impose a custodial sentence because his students who are about to sit for their external examinations in October would be seriously affected.
He said he was also supporting his mother and her elderly sister.
Mphahama said the incident had left him badly traumatised.
Advocate Kananelo Khoboko appeared for the crown.

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