After 12 months of nightmares and tragedy on a death row, Tlhwaafalo Tlhwaafalo, 32, breathed a huge sigh of relief Monday morning as the Court of Appeal Judge President, Ian Kirby announced to him that he, “will not be subjected to death penalty as it has been the case.”
Tlhwaafalo was appealing the death sentence imposed on him by High Court Judge Justice Mercy Garekwe for the death of his 46-year old girl friend and mother of their child in Dutlwe village near Letlhakane in 2010.
Kirby made the announcement immediately after the arguments by both Tlhwaafalo’s attorneys, Aobakwe Monamo and Duma Boko, and the State prosecutor Khumoetsile Tirelo that the death sentence will be reversed on October 23rd.
The prosecutor had conceded that the death sentence was not appropriate. She stated that upon perusal of the High Court record, she found that the trial Judge misdirected herself on numerous issues which lead her to impose the death penalty. “Death sentence was too harsh for him,” she submitted.
According to the prosecutor, the evidence suggested that there were some factors which amounted to a reduction of the sentence, and it was also wrong for the Judge not to invite Tlhwaafalo to lead evidence on such factors. She said the fact that Tlhwaafalo had opted to remain silent and not to give evidence in court as to what actually transpired during the day in question did not warrant the Judge to deny him a chance to give evidence on the extenuating circumstances.
She told the Court that Tlhwaafalo and the deceased were a drinking couple who would often fight after drinking. “The evidence on the record indicates that there was no pre-meditation: they spent the whole day drinking peacefully and it was only later on that they started the fight which led to the death,” said the prosecutor. The court heard that Tlhwaafalo had used an okapi knife to cut the deceased’s throat during a fight after the duo consumed alcohol.