Electricity theft convict dodges jail time

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By Seleoe Nonyane

This week, members of the public came to Limpho Letlatsa’s aid to help her avoid jail time after she was convicted to a three-year imprisonment or a fine of M3000 after accused and found guilty of electricity theft.

The 28-year old Letlatsa who resides at Masetlaokong Khubetsoana appeared in the Magistrate Court on January 13 2023 where she faced a charge of theft after alleged stealing of electricity worth M6 021.

Letlatsa was found guilty as charged was sentenced to serve a six-year jail time or pay M6000 fine, half of her sentence was suspended. However, she failed to pay the fine and therefore went down to prison.

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This case made a buzz on social media where the public was complained that Letlatsa’s sentence was a bit too harsh.

Their concern was that they felt like Letlatsa’s offence was not a severe crime as opposed to other crimes which they claim that the other convicts received lesser fines or jail time.

They also said that they feel like she deserved a second chance as she may have been pushed to commit this crime due to poverty.

However, they said that they do not condone the act and wished she could take the opportunity to mend her ways free of crime.

One of the of the businessmen and social digital creator Tichere Pule, raised M1500 towards Letsatsa’s resulting in luring other readers to contibute financially to pay for the fine afte he requested followers to do so to ensure Letlatsa escaped jail time.

Pule told theReporter that he did this because he perceived that Letlatsa deserved a second chance at life so he did what he can to make an impact in Letlatsa’s life.

“I do not in any way condone the crime she was convicted for. However, this is just a gesture which will provide her with a second chance to make better life choices.

“The extra money that was made will assist her in maybe starting her own business and to cover for some of her basic needs”, he said.

He said that he paid the M3000 fine and the Magistrate Court where he was offered a receipt which he took to the prison where Letlatsa was being held to serve as proof of payment.

On the other hand, Sebabatso Molise claimed that in her opinion she feels as though Letlasa crime is not a major offence and she deserved a lesser jail term.

She compared the electricity theft crime to rape whereby convicts in some instances are given lesser sentence.

The Molati Chamber Advocate Letuka Molati said that in regards to this case Letlatsa was charged, tried and punished according to proper dictates of the law.

“The punishment was proper it is according to law and sentencing guidelines. Crime doesn’t pay but sometimes it pays only for lawyers.

“Electricity theft falls under general crime of theft. It is worsened by the fact that it is a type of theft who commission involved commission of other related crimes such as a malicious damage to property and tempering with electronic device,” he said.

He said the public’s misconceptions about the Letlatsa’s case and assuming that she was unfairly treated could generate from the fact that the public always regarded the summary of a case without borthering to know the facts or evidence that led to the punishment given in a certain case.

 “The punishment for rape is imprisonment with no fine. In majority of cases people found guitly of rape are senteced to go to prison for 10 years or more. In extreme cases, they are sentenced to death by hanging which sentence is not issued often”, he said.

Meanwhile, the senior inspector for the Lesotho Mounted Police Services (LMPS) and the the police manager at the Lesotho Electricity Company (LEC) Maseli Maseli said that electricity crime is rife in the country and the  common is electricity theft and vandalism.

He said however, for the year 2023 he believes that this crime has deteriorated owing to the fact that  he had not received any reports of any crimes associated with electricity except in Letlatsa’s case..

He said in order to combat the activities the police were working together with the LEC staff and the public, adding that such criminal acts were a burden to the electricity company.