Justice Abednego Tafa of the Gaborone High Court has slapped Thabo Masilo with a 23-year prison sentence for the 2012 murder of Tshephang Motlhabane, bringing to a close the case which had drawn much public interest.
Passing sentence before a packed courtroom on June 28, Justice Tafa said in reaching a decision, the court had to strike a balance between the convict and his personal circumstances, the nature of the offence and the interests of society.
He said in murdering Motlhabane, Masilo had shown no compassion to a fellow human being who presented no threat whatsoever to him, thus depriving the deceased’s family of a loved one and the nation of a brilliant and promising young lady.
Justice Tafa said, having listened carefully to the defence, it was the view of the court that while intoxication, which had been raised during submissions on extenuating circumstances, could indeed alter a person’s behaviour, the court had found, however, that the issue of intoxication had come up far too often hence the courts should pass stiffer sentences.
Also, he said the mitigating factor of youthful exuberance had become overworked. He said it was time that such exuberance be channeled towards worthwhile activities and not into committing crime.
Justice Tafa said from the evidence tendered before court, Masilo was a danger to society, hence deserving a long custodial sentence that would allow him the time to reflect on his actions as well as future and to also protect the society from his violent behaviour.
After passing sentence, the judge said the time that Masilo had already spent in custody from the time he was arrested to the time he was sentenced for the offences of robbery and indecent assault, would be taken into account.
He ordered that the sentence and the one Masilo was already serving, run consecutively.
In 2015, Masilo was handed a three-year sentence for indecent assault and 10 years imprisonment for robbery by the Broadhurst Magistrates Court.
Earlier when mitigating on behalf on his client, Masilo’s attorney Mr Kgosietsile Ngakaagae had pleaded with the court to temper justice with mercy since the accused had shown remorse for his actions.
Mr Ngakaagae had submitted that, in passing sentence, the court should be alive to the fact that for a sentence to have a deterrent effect it did not necessarily have to be long.
He had indicated that the certainty that one would be sentenced could on its own be a deterrent to the commission of crime.
Mr Ngakaagae had also told the court that prior to the accused’s offences, which were committed within four days of each other, he had had no brushes with the law and thus had a clean criminal record.
Furthermore, the attorney had indicated that Masilo had, despite the possibility of being handed a death sentence, remained hopeful of a good future as evidenced by his pursuit of further studies as presently he was only a semester away from completing a Degree in Business Entrepreneurship.