After spending a month in custody for shooting dead a suspected cattle thief, Thabano Motlhaping 64, was this week released on bail by a Molepolole magistrates court.
Family members and well wishers thronged the courtroom on Monday in anticipation for Motlhaping’s release.
After his bail application was granted the group that included fellow farmers who are also members of an association called ‘Dinkgatamala’ which plays a neighbourhood watch role for the local farmers, gathered outside the courtroom cursing the dead man and accusing him of landing Motlhaping in trouble.
“These thieves steal our cattle and leave us poor, and if you try to protect what is yours you get locked up,” commented one of the members.
As he waited for his liberation warrant to be processed, Motlhaping echoed the friend’s sentiments. He said as he forced a smile through his troubled face: “I would have been worried if I was being punished for what I did not do. All I did was protect what is mine.”
Motlhaping who, in May this year, lost three cattle is alleged to have shot dead Pone Rangaka at Mogonono cattle post near Molepolole. It is alleged that an informer saw three men driving the cattle and informed Motlhaping who followed and shot Rangaka while the other two men fled.
Rangaka’s family have since denied that their son was a thief. His enraged father Garekwe Mabu (90) denied that his son was a thief and suggested that he may have been killed for money.
“He left his job at the mines last year and I had given him some cattle and he added to those that he had bought and started his own cattle farming business.
He was never involved in any criminal activity and he had no police record,” he said.
The deceased’s mother, Phalalo,79 also demanded that the case be investigated to establish the motive behind her son’s death.
“What I know is that he was never a thief. I also know that nothing will bring my son back and all I want is to know the truth so that I can get some kind of closure on this whole matter,” she said.
Rangaka’s younger brother, Keabile, said the police had been notified before his brother was shot. “What hurts most is that Motlhaping knew Pone.
There was no need for him to shoot my brother even when he suspected that he was a thief. He should have talked to him to find out what was going on.”
Motlhaping was released on a P1000 bail and the case continues on December 3.