Ten years for Tau

Chief Justice Maruping Dibotelo this week sentenced Boitshwarelo Tau to 10 years imprisonment for the murder of his boyfriend Senki Phuthego four years ago.

The sentence followed shortly after Justice Dibotelo found the accused guilty of murder with extenuating circumstances.

Tau, who was 26-years-old when she committed the offence, was accused of the murder of Phuthego in Mahotshwane near Mabutsane after hitting him three times with stones on the back of his head on 27 August 2011. He died two months later at Princess Marina Hospital (PMH) in Gaborone where he was hospitalised in the intensive care unit.

Justice Dibotelo, who had earlier found Tau guilty of murder as charged, but, however, concurred with defence attorney, Mr Gabriel Kanjabanga’s submission that there were extenuating circumstances which warranted a lessor blameworthy on the part of the accused. Justice Dibotelo said the sentence would be backdated to include any other period that she might have spent in incarceration prior to her conviction and sentence.

Attorney Kanjabanga had submitted that the court should consider that the convict did not plan the murder, but acted impulsively after the deceased insulted her when she asked him why he came home late and drunk while he knew they were supposed to go together and let out goats from the kraal at Dikantsi ploughing field, some 7 kms away.

The deceased had reportedly told Tau “to go to hell,” adding that he does not have any goats, something which infuriated her especially that the goats were their source of livelihood as a family.

Justice Dibotelo noted that “fotsheke” is a derogatory term usually directed at a dog, especially when scarring it away, and that this becomes an insult when you denote the same to a person.

Attorney Kanjabanga also said the stones which she used to hit the deceased were picked along the way, and that she did not have them in her possession all along.

He also said the deceased and the convict were living together with their two children, and that there was no how she could have premeditated the murder.

In mitigation, Mr Kanjabanga said Tau was a mother of two children aged nine and 12 years respectively, and that they were presently under her care. What pains most, he said, was that she was going to live the rest of her live knowing that she was the one who denied her children the right to their father. In addition, he said when she was told that Phuthego had died, she cried for a long time, saying it showed remorse on her part.

Mr Kanjabanga further said the court should temper justice with mercy and not send her to a lengthy jail sentence as the children have nobody to look up to, adding that her grandmother was old, sickly and blind, and that she was also cared for by Tau, who is the sole bread winner. He added that Tau also does not have parents.

Though Tau has a previous conviction of assault occasioning bodily harm which happened in 2005, he said she should be treated as a first offender because it happened 10 years ago.

Justice Dibotelo said Tau used excessive force.

Mr Kanjabanga had implored the court to sentence Tau to at least eight years so that the children do not suffer during her absence.