Sunday June 4, 2023 – A court has sentenced a 27-year-old herdsman, Mmoloki Pholo, to death by hanging for the rape and murder of his employer’s wife in Botswana.

Pholo was sentenced on Friday, June 2, 2023, after the Gaborone High Court dismissed his late application for appeal.

Pholo hacked 44-year-old Kemme Mercy Sebolao to death with an axe at Bonnonyane cattle post near Sefhophe on January 14, 2018.

He had been employed by Sebolao’s husband as a cattle herder.

The court heard that the deceased had been sent by her husband to the cattle post to take water to Pholo, who had been employed for a month.

It is said that Pholo spent the day sexually assaulting Sebolao before killing her and thereafter attempted to bury her body.

Pholo was then convicted and sentenced to death in April last year.

He filed his late application to appeal in July last year. He had reasoned that he thought his then pro-deo lawyer would launch an appeal at the Court of Appeal on his behalf.

Pholo said he was informed late that the mandate of the pro-deo lawyer terminated after the completion of the matter at the high court, and that he would have to apply afresh for another lawyer if he still wished for the state to assist him with one.

But Justice Walia Singh dismissed his application saying Pholo failed to show any prospects of success of his appeal.

Passing the judgement, Justice Tshegofatso Mogomotsi said that Pholo was convicted of murder with no extenuating circumstances.

“In sentencing the accused, I shall take into account the gravity of the offence he committed. The accused used an axe to chop the deceased not once, twice, but thrice on the head. When the deceased was being murdered, she was lying on a mattress that the accused had given to her,” the Judge said.

“The deceased was exhausted after the accused tormented her for the whole day. I shall also take into account the cruelty that was meted out on the deceased when she met her fate. The accused also stabbed the deceased with a screwdriver, hit her with a log on the head and then tried to bury her,” Mogomotsi added. 

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