DOUBLE murder convict, Habofanoe Lephuthela Ntsie will spend the next 21 years behind bars after the High Court on Thursday sentenced him for the 2004 murders of two men at Lancer’s Gap in Maseru.
Feb. 24, 2023
2 min read
Ntsie slapped with 21-year jail term
Double murder convict, Habofanoe Lephuthela Ntsie
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The former cameraman fatally shot Habaka Mahao and Souru Masupha on November 30, 2004, in what he later described as self defence.
In his defence, Ntsie claimed that on the day of the fatal shooting, the two men were armed with AK-47 assault rifles and wanted to kill him.
Handing down the long-awaited verdict, Justice ’Maseforo Mahase said there were many parties involved in the case who were keen to see Justice being served and the trial finally completed.
“It is the duty of this court to impose upon the accused person, sentencing befitting of criminal offenses preferred against him,” she said.
She added that the murder weapon used to commit the murders, which was later handed over to the state was unlicensed.
“The accused is therefore lucky as I see no reason as to why he has not been charged with possession of an illegal firearm.”
The judge said she finalised the matter on the basis that there were no formal applications filed in court by the defence.
“After the counsel for the accused had recused himself, I asked the accused to address the court in mitigation of sentence but he refused to do so,” she said.
Ntsie was sentenced in the absence of his lawyer, Advocate Raboletse Makara who recused himself from the trial earlier that day, showing that he could not mitigate the sentence as his client had not instructed him to do so.
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This was after the defence realised that there was an option to appeal the verdict.
Makara had earlier asked the court to grant his client bail but Justice Mahase shot the application down, saying Ntsie had absconded in 2012.
She convicted him in absentia after he fled the country during lunch break on the day the judgment was being read.
At the time Ntsie absconded, he was presented by King’s Counsel Haae Phoofolo whom he fired last year.
He was eventually arrested in South Africa in March last year and extradited back to Lesotho.