MASERU — He killed his girlfriend and buried her body in a garden.
And for two weeks he claimed he knew nothing about her whereabouts.
When people asked him he claimed they had separated.
That’s the gory story of a 23-year-old Mafeteng man who was convicted for murder by High Court judge Justice Nthomeng Majara on Monday.
Tšepo Phitšane will be sentenced tomorrow for the murder he committed in July 2006 in Mafeteng.
During the trial Phitšane said he had killed ’Matsebang Ramoroa after a quarrel over food which he said was “badly cooked”.
Phitšane told the court that he hit Ramoroa with an ashtray and stormed out of the house, leaving her slumped in the bed.
He said when he came back he noticed that she had died but instead of reporting to the police he decided to bury her body in the garden.
Phitšane said he buried the body because he was afraid villagers would kill him if they discovered he had bludgeoned his girlfriend to death.
His defence team had tried to convince the court that Phitšane had suffered temporary insanity when he killed his girlfriend.
But that defence crumbled when the psychiatrist who assessed him told the court that he believed he was of sound mind.
The psychiatrist told the court that throughout Phitšane’s stay at the hospital “his mind was normal and there was no history of mental illness in his family”.
During submissions defence lawyer Advocate Khosi Lesuthu questioned the psychiatrist’s evidence saying it was based on information gathered from other people and not a proper assessment of the accused’s state of mind.
However, Justice Majara concluded that the crown had proved its case beyond reasonable doubt.
She rejected the argument that Phitšane was temporarily insane when he committed the murder.
The defence’s assertions that the psychiatrist had relied on testimonies from other people to assess Phitšane was unfounded, the judge said.
She said the psychiatrist had told the court he had dealt with the accused directly while relying on the reports of the people he worked with.
“Nothing was suggested that what the psychiatrist did was something out of the ordinary. It was not shown how the doctor could come and incriminate the accused,” Justice Majara said.
The judge said it was important to note that the defence was now questioning the findings of a psychiatrist whose services it had requested.
The judge added that when the accused was cross-examined he gave a clear account of what happened on the day of the murder.
“He also told the court that he took the decision to bury the deceased,” the judge said, adding that the “onus of temporary insanity was on them to prove but they failed.”
“In my view the defence version is false beyond doubt.”