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Murder convict, Masilo not going down without a “fight”

Keletso Thobega

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Thabo Masilo did not cringe when Judge Abednigo Tafa found him guilty of murder this past Thursday. Masilo stood erect staring ahead as if in a trance.

There was not a mutter in the courtroom when Justice Tafa stated that Masilo had intentionally murdered former St. Joseph’s College learner Tshepang Motlhabane on 16 November 2012 in Phase 4 Gaborone. In his ruling, Tafa argued that Masilo could not claim that he was acting in self defence when he had stabbed Tshepang three times. Masilo had through his lawyer Kgosi Ngakayagae insisted that Tshepang was his lover and he had stabbed her following an altercation because she had grabbed him by the balls when he had demanded his phone and P100 he had borrowed her.

Post mortem results show that Motlhabane had three wounds and died from a vein rupture. “If it was indeed self-defence, he would have not stabbed the deceased three times in different places. It is without a doubt that the accused had come to the house with the intention to commit an offence but faced with resistence from his victim, he decided to stab her,” said the judge.
He however dismissed the robbery charge.

It remains a mystery how Masilo gained entry into the property, which had a high wall and alarm system. Curious members of the public, relatives and friends of Tshepang as well as relatives of Masilo flocked Court Room 5 of Lobatse High Court for the ruling. The courtroom was so packed that some people sat at the back on the floor.

Masilo, who has lost a lot of weight, seemed to suffer a ‘leaky bladder’ as he went to the bathroom several times, escorted by prison officers. At one point during the long ruling, Masilo stopped proceedings, and through his lawyer Ngakayagae, complained that there were certain people in the courtroom taking pictures of him.

These people were seen by him only. The ruling that was read over nearly two hours painted a sad ending for the little girl who sustained wounds above the eye, on the chest and died a day after the attack. Tshepang is said to have at one point said to a nurse and relative: A lo boleletse mama gore ke a swa (Did you tell my mother that I am dying). Information provided by medical personnel indicates that she had lost a lot of blood.

Tafa read statements by 13 witnesses including Security System officers, police officers, a forensic expert, nurse, doctor, a relative and a photojournalist. All corroborated that the girl had been attacked and had locked herself in her bedroom from her assailant, who was much later found in hiding in the house. Masilo had claimed that he and the deceased were dating and he had loaned her P100 and his Nokia phone. However, when he visited her and asked that she return the money, a fight ensued and she held him by the testicles.

This, he claimed, led to him taking a kitchen knife and stabbing her in self-defence because she did not want to let go of him. Tafa said that this version of events was questionable and noted that only the accused and deceased were in the house at the said time and it would be difficult to determine exactly what had happened. He however said that there was no doubt that Masilo had killed Motlhabane.

He also noted that Masilo’s actions showed guilt as he had hidden in the ceiling of the house when he heard Security Systems personnel breaking into the house, and had also claimed to have drunk poison. He said if it was not his intention to kill Tshepang; he would have cooperated with the security officers and asked them to help Tshepang promptly.

Following the ruling, Masilo’s lawyer Ngakayagae asked for a date to be set for submissions on extenuation, saying that they would present three witnesses. The date was set to 7 February 2019 at the Gaborone High Court.

Masilo, who is already serving 15 years for robbery and rape, appears to come from a decent home. Many of his relatives were in court to offer moral support. His mother, who appeared agitated, has been by his side from day one. Considering that the family is paying one of the best lawyers in the country, it is safe to say that money is not a problem.

Although Masilo has already been found guilty, the fight appears to be for a more lenient sentence as he faces the hangman’s noose. Outside court, different camps spoke in hushed tones discussing the ruling. The mother of the late Tshepng looked sombre and frail. It is clear that the pain has not left her.

Shying away from flashing cameras and curious glances, she briefly said she was pleased Masilo had been found guilty but refused to comment further. An unidentified family representative chipped in that they were happy with the ruling. Quizzed on how they felt about Masilo she said: “We have forgiven him because we are Christians. But we are glad that justice will be served.”

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WEDDING ROYALE

Dikarabo Ramadubu

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Kgosi Bokamoso Radipitse of Bakhurutshe ba Tonota got married to Mohumagadi Koontse nee Batsweleng of the same village in a colourful ceremony befitting royalty on Saturday in Tonota. The special occasion was held at the spacious main Tonota Kgotla, which boasts two permanent all-weather shelters fitted with public address system, chairs and free WI-Fi.

As with his installation two years ago, the wedding once again united the tribe as all members participated. Most impressive was the active involvement of the elegantly dressed Bazezuru women who formed part of the ushering team.

The royal couple arrived at the main Tonota Kgotla riding on a white chariot pulled by a horse. This was after parading in the main streets of the village for the villagers who could not make it to the main Kgotla. The chariot was escorted by a convoy of Honda Fit vehicles mostly owned by members of the Tonota Taxi Association and well wishers led by area MP and Minister of Tertiary Education, Thapelo Olopeng. There was also a convoy of V-8 engine Land- Rovers.

Mohumagadi Koontse is the daughter of Mme Kerotse Batsweleng in Mmandunyane. Batsweleng was born in Kanye at Ruele ward. The couple first met in 2011 during the population census where the Kgosi was absolutely smitten by the gorgeous damsel. The couple is blessed with two sons, Theriso and Seabo. Mohumagadi Koontse is still employed by government as a teacher at Makolojwane in Serowe.

The guest list included Magosi of different tribes amongst them Bamangwato regent, Sediegeng Kgamane, Kgosi Kebinatshwene Mosielele of Bahurutshe ba Manyana, Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Kenneth Matambo, Ministers Olopeng and Kgotla Autlweetse. Although Kgosi Radipitse is a fully fledged Kgosi, he has however not been draped with a leopard skin in line with the custom.

The simple reason is that his father, Kgosi Ramosinyi who retired, is still alive. Tonota chieftainship succession is clearly defined. No one has ever challenged the lineage.

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FROM GRASS TO GRACE

Yvonne Mooka

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On March 2, Katso Kaone Tlhobogang decided to go to a Red Tie gala dinner at Boatle, only to be ridiculed by social media users for her outfit a few days later.The 22 year-old Ramotswa woman had opted for a vintage look, with a loose peach skirt and green blouse that set tongues wagging.

When The Midweek Sun visited her, she explained the incident. “I hate tight clothes. I love colour blocking and I love pleated skirts. Before the event, I went to a store in Gaborone and honestly, when I saw the skirt, I felt it was long and big. The shop assistant however wanted me to buy it. I left and tried other stores but there was nothing for me. So I went back for the peach skirt and I remembered I had a green blouse to match it, so I bought it,” she says.

At home, her aunt Caroline Molefi-Jamieson asked her how she was going to dance wearing such a long skirt but she was having none of it. The aunt tells The Midweek Sun: “She actually danced for me in the skirt and she was feeling so free and happy.” Tlhobogang says that when she arrived at the event, people gave her some funny stares, something she says indicated to her immediately that her outfit was out of place. She however says she cared less and went ahead and danced. The event had a red-carpet and an official photographer and Tlhobogang did not hesitate to have her pictures taken as well.

“The photographer called me and I enjoyed the moment as I posed like crazy! Like Tyra Banks and them!” says the model, who is also a Certificate in Banking and Finance holder. She is currently assisting her aunt with running her pre-school. According to her aunt, last Thursday they had taken their pupils to Lion Park for recreational activities when she found 64 missed calls on her phone. Tlhobogang had left her phone at home. She says that when they got back to school around 4pm, Tlhobogang’s cousin called her saying people were ridiculing her on Facebook over her outfit. “I kept quiet and did not tell her anything. When the rest of the staff was gone, I then told her that her cousin was saying she was trending on Facebook.

But she took it lightly till we got home when she got hold of her phone and checked Facebook,” she says. She reveals that on that day, her niece could not eat and was weak. Her face was swollen, she says. “I even moved from my bedroom to hers because I was afraid she was suicidal. I had to force her to eat by taking her to Nandos the following night around 10,” she says.

Tlhobogang admits she was angry and sad. She states that out of 156 pictures shared from the event, hers was mocked because she was not wearing a skimpy outfit that exposes breasts and butts like other women. “They probably thought I didn’t qualify for the event. That I was a misfit,” she says. Next to her, Phenyo Molefi, her cousin, shared that he too had been taken aback by the Facebook posts. “Actually, on Thursday, I saw the pictures before she and her mom could, and I kept quiet but I was fuming.

If I had the means, I would have gone and dealt with everyone who insulted her. I spent the whole day sleeping because I couldn’t handle it,” he says. As fate would have it, the people that attacked and ridiculed Tlhobogang now have to eat humble pie as she is receiving love from all over the world – not just locally. People are calling her to give her vouchers for clothes. Others are simply sending her messages asking for her shoe size and clothing size.

She has received an offer to go to Turkey by a local minister’s wife for a shopping spree. Others have offered to take her to Johannesburg, Okavango Deltas, among others. “I have close to 80 clothing offers from people calling from locally, outside and countries such as China and Morocco. My tears have turned into joy. It’s so unbelievable how it has worked out to my favour,” she says.

Tomorrow (Thursday), a local designer Theo Bree Khumo is hosting a re-makeover session for her at Grand Palm. “I’ll be wearing the same skirt but she says they are going to change it here and there. Other ladies will come wearing a similar skirt but in flair designs,” she says.

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