Headmaster gets 6 years in jail

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MASERU  — A headmaster was on Tuesday sentenced to six years in jail for fatally shooting another man three years ago.

Pitso Lipholo, 34, a headmaster at Tholo Secondary School in Maseru, was convicted of culpable homicide when he appeared before Maseru magistrate Molemo Monethi this week.

Lipholo was also slapped with another year in prison or an option to pay a M1 000 fine after he was convicted for illegal possession of a firearm that was used in the incident.

The court heard that Lipholo from Ha Sankoe in Maseru shot dead Molefi Motopi on the night of July 27, 2008 at Ha Mokhalinyane in Maseru after a dispute.

The nature of the dispute was not revealed in court.

Lipholo pleaded not guilty to both counts.

When he appeared in court earlier before the sentence was passed, Lipholo denied that the gun that was used to commit the crime belonged to him.

But the court found that there was compelling evidence that suggested that the accused owned a gun and that he had owned up to owning one during cross-examination.

Witnesses told the court that on the fateful day, they saw Lipholo going towards the direction where Motopi lived.

They said they heard about four gunshots about a kilometre away.

The witnesses said when they rushed to the find out what had happened they found that Motopi had been shot but was still alive.

Motopi is alleged to have told the crown witnesses that he had been shot by Lipholo. He did not reveal the reason.

He died a few minutes later.

The court heard that Lipholo handed himself to the police six days later and claimed that the firearm that had been used belonged to him.

He was immediately arrested.

But when he eventually appeared in court, Lipholo said he and the deceased were struggling for possession of the 7.65 pistol.

Lipholo said Motopi was accidentally shot in the ensuing struggle.

The magistrate rejected Lipholo’s defence.

“I come to the conclusion that the firearm belonged to you,” Monethi said.

She said when Lipholo handed the weapon to the police he admitted that it belonged to him.

Prosecutor Gcinimuzi Tshabalala appeared for the crown while Advocate Letuka Molati represented the defence.

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