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Murder convicts await rulings on leave to appeal

10 May 2023

Two men convicted of murder in two separate cases will have to wait until June 2 to hear the outcome of their pleas to file appeals out of time before the Court of Appeal.

One of them, Mmoloki Pholo who was sentenced to death on April 10 last year by the Francistown High Court for the murder of Mercy Sebolao, is likely to face execution should his late application for appeal which is before Justice Walia Singh fail.

In his argument for filing the appeal late, Pholo reasoned that when he was sentenced to death by the Francistown High Court, he had a genuine reason that his then pro-deo lawyer would launch an appeal at the Court of Appeal on his behalf.

He 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 pro-deo lawyer if he still wished for the state to assist him with one.

“I was then informed by prisons officials not to worry because they told me that all murder cases ultimately come for a review before the Court of Appeal, where they said I would still have a chance to file my appeal,” he said.

His lawyer, Mr Maswabi Maswabi informed the court through filed documents that it appeared that the appellant was not informed of his right to appeal when the sentence was passed, which he said would also have alerted him to personally file his appeal in time.

He however, admitted that such was common practice in instances where one was legally represented.

Pholo made a formal application for a pro-deo lawyer on July 20, 2022, more than three months after the elapse of the prescribed six months period.

Pholo was convicted  of murdering Sebolao at Bonnanonyane cattle post near Sefhophe on January 14, 2018, a murder he admitted.

Meanwhile, another murder convict, Jonas Masebo, who appeared before Justice Isaac Lesetedi argued through his lawyer, Ms Nehwati Mongi that he believed that he had strong prospects for success in his appeal should he be given a chance to make one.

He argued that he was let down by his previous lawyer after his sentencing as he failed to file his appeal on time as instructed.

Masebo said that he had written to the high court seeking  permission to make a late appeal.

Justice Lesetedi noted that   the reasons advanced by the appellant were not exceptional enough, indicating that it was rather negligence by his lawyer.

He also noted that the appellant also erred by sending to the court a letter instead of an affidavit in seeking permission for late filing.

Masebo was sentenced to 17 years for murder on March 17 2022 by the Francistown high court, but only filed his appeal on March 30 the following year, making the appeal late by six months. ENDS

Source : BOPA

Author : Olekantse Sennamose

Location : Gaborone

Event : court

Date : 10 May 2023