Two legal brains have joined to put on a spirited fight to save their convicted killer clients from being hanged by the Botswana government.
Earlier this year, Lobatse Judge Abednego Tafa convicted Tshiamo Kgalalelo (32) and Mmika Mpe (28) for murdering and then setting their Afrikaner boss’, Reinette Vorster, body on fire in her car.
In Botswana, the death sentence is usually issued upon murder under aggravated circumstances and is carried out by hanging. Experienced lawyer Themba Joina represents Mpe while Kgalalelo is relying on Archibald Gijima to save him from the gallows.
The latest on the case is that the two lawyers had already submitted written mitigating and extenuating circumstances to deliver their clients from the dreadful hangman.
On 24 November the two lawyers will plead for the last time and explain why their clients should be shown mercy.
In the last court session the two convicts said they killed their employer out of anger, because the deceased had subjected them to slave conditions on the farms of Okwa Valley in Gantsi, a village 667 kilometres away from the capital, Gaborone.
The duo said they experienced hardships and barbaric and harsh treatment at the hands of the white lady they brutally murdered and burnt, inside her Toyota D4D.
This attracted other charges besides murder like: abduction, robbery, motor vehicle theft and arson.
In the last court sitting Kgalalelo testified that: “I worked at Okwa Valley for several years despite the harsh treatment from my employer.
We could not report the ill-treatment to labour or any other department because the farm was too far from where [those] offices are. There was also no labour inspection.”
Both lawyers agreed that their clients were ill-treated by Vorster.
Kgalalelo’s lawyer, Gijima, said his client did not murder Vorster. Mpe's lawyer, Joina, said his client was young when he committed the offence and the court should take that factor into consideration. Another thing that shows Mpe was immature, Joina said, is the court findings that show he strangled Vorster to death.
Botswana citizen Patrick Gabaakanye is the last man to receive the death penalty. He was the fourth inmate to be executed in Botswana in the last 20 years after the 1999 execution of South African immigrant Mariette Bosch, for murder.
Bosch's hanging, which caused international attention and mixed reactions, was followed by another South African national Lehlohonolo Bernard Kobedi's execution in July 2003.
In 2008 Modise Mokwadi Fly, a Motswana, was hanged for killing his son.
This means that current President Ian Khama has seen at least two executions while in power.
According to the Botswana Constitution, after the courts of Botswana have confirmed a death penalty, the case must still be referred to the Advisory Committee on Prerogative of Mercy, who in turn shall advise the president if there are grounds for him to exercise his powers under Section 53 of the Constitution to "substitute a less severe form of punishment”.
The membership of the Advisory Committee on Prerogative of Mercy consists of either the Vice-President or a minister appointed by the President, the Attorney-General; and a person qualified as a medical practitioner in Botswana, who is appointed by the President.
After Botswana’s last execution, which was exercised on Gabaakanye, the European Union (EU), which is anti-death penalty, issued a statement condemning Botswana. The EU said the use of capital punishment can never be justified. “The European Union believes that the death penalty is a cruel and inhumane punishment and has consistently called for its universal abolition,” it said.