Judge says the accused had shown no remorse and was unable to own up to the facts
A NORTHERN Cape man broke down in court on Tuesday when he was sentenced to life imprisonment for stabbing his ex-girlfriend to death.
The Northern Cape High Court handed down a life sentence to Thabang Leonard Moqhobai, 36, for the murder of Elsie “Mase” Chabalala.
Moqhobai had been found guilty of killing Chabalala by stabbing her six times with a butcher knife in Ritchie on October 13, 2019.
He broke down in court after Northern Cape High Court Judge Lawrence Lever passed the sentence.
The gruesome murder happened three houses away from Chabalala’s home in Ritchie.
Moqhobai testified in court that he could not remember stabbing Chabalala, but he could remember “wrestling” with her on the day of the incident.
He said that Chabalala had tried to stop him from going to confront her new boyfriend, Cecil Klaase.
According to Moqhobai, he was not angry with the deceased, but with Klaase.
He claimed that Klaase did not keep his promise of staying away from Chabalala in order to allow the two of them to fix their broken relationship.
The sentencing, which was expected to be handed down on December 8, 2020, was postponed to March 16 after Moqhobai accused Klaase of lying under oath.
Klaase, who later turned state witness, had told the court that he only met and spoke to Moqhobai for the first time at a family meeting where Chabalala chose him (Klaase) over the accused.
Moqhobai claimed that Klaase had lied and that they had spoken over the phone before the meeting.
Moqhobai insisted that the court revisit cellphone records “to prove” that he had called Klaase several times.
Chabalala’s grandmother had apparently summoned the two men and her granddaughter to her house on the day of the murder.
Moqhobai insisted that he had called Klaase to attend the family meeting with Chabalala’s grandmother, while Klaase said that Chabalala had asked him to attend.
According to Moqhobai, he became angry after arriving home following the meeting. He told the court that he took a knife and went to confront Klaase.
He said that he had taken the knife to defend himself in case of a fight breaking out with Klaase.
Moqhobai further told the court that he had changed his mind along the way and would rather go and fix things with Chabalala and leave Klaase alone.
During sentencing on Tuesday, Judge Lever pointed out that it would be unfair to consider the submission by Moqhobai’s legal representative that his client be handed a minimum sentence, and for the well-being of his family to be taken into consideration alone.
The family of the deceased had previously indicated that Chabalala’s 76-year-old grandmother suffered two strokes after her death.
“This has also affected the family of the deceased physically and emotionally,” said Lever.
He said that Moqhobai had shown no remorse and was unable to own up to the facts.
Lever said further that Moqhobai did not respect the court and had insisted on the availing of the phone records with full knowledge that there were no records of any calls.
“The contents of the cellphone records do not correspond with his version of the incidents that led to the murder.
“The accused did not show remorse and made the murder sound like a mistake that he made.
“He did not take full responsibility for his actions.
“Instead, he said that he is sorry for ruining his own life by committing the murder.
“He denied the fact that that he had committed a premeditated murder.”
The judge said that Moqhobai “felt he had control over Chabalala and felt that he owned her”.
“No one has the right to do that. It is unacceptable in society.”