‘An eye for an eye, he was supposed to die!’

Christinah Motlhabane
LUCKY TO BE ALIVE: Moses Kanika after being sentenced to death in 2021

Murdered woman’s family react in fury at CoA’s decision to spare convicted killer

The Court Of Appeal’s decision to save condemned killer, Moses Kanika, from the hangman’s noose has not gone down well with the family of the woman he murdered.

The 48-year-old was sentenced to death by Francistown High Court in November 2021 after he was found guilty of stabbing his ex-girlfriend, Palalani Tafila, to death.

The 36-year-old mother-of-one was butchered in her rented home in Selibe Phikwe sometime in January 2016.

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At peace with Judge Lot Moroka’s choice to condemn Kanika to the gallows, Tafila’s loved ones are struggling to understand this unexpected twist, unable to comprehend the CoA’s reasons for showing mercy to a man who reportedly plunged a knife into their daughter 12 times.

When reducing Kanika’s sentence from capital punishment to 25 years behind bars on Friday, the CoA explained they came to this verdict as the murder was not planned.

This does not sit well with Tafila’s parents.

Adding to their anger, the slain woman’s family only found out about the verdict on social media; they had no idea Kanika was appealing his sentence. Indeed, they didn’t even know he could!

When The Voice met with the family on Tuesday at their home in Damuchujena village, some 10 kilometers from Serule, we arrive to a hot welcome.

Assuming we are from the Court of Appeal, Tafila’s father, Pelaelo Morotsi, is furious to see us, demanding to know why we spared his daughter’s killer.

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‘An eye for an eye, he was supposed to die!’
DISTRESSED: Pelaelo and Morotsi

The 67-year-old, who has just returned from the fields, calms down slightly when he learns we are from the media, although he still grumbles unhappily.

His wife, Balulwami Pelaelo, 64, says she was shocked to hear Kanika was no longer going to hang.

“A life for a life, that’s how it should be. I had accepted the first sentence, the death sentence. Now I am surprised to find there is another sentence, how is that possible? And, can you imagine, we had to learn about this on Facebook, no one bothered to tell us,” complains Pelaelo.

“It is very painful, and I wonder where I can complain because this sentence was passed by the government,” she adds in distress.

The barefooted Pelaelo demands to know, “How someone leave his place in the morning, follow my daughter to her house, stab her 12 times and be given a lesser sentence!”

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Equally angry, Tafila’s younger brother, Tamucha Tafila, 40, tells The Voice they thought Francistown High Court’s ruling was final.

“We believed the case was over, done. I wonder why we were not informed that the killer was appealing the sentence. We had a right to know. If we were engaged, we could not be having these many questions,” he says over the phone.

Tamucha feels especially sorry for his sister’s son, who is currently studying at University of Botswana (UB) in Gaborone.

“It is very sad on our side. Even the deceased’s child had to find out that his mother’s killer was given a lesser sentence on social media. We could have been informed so that we also attend court and support my nephew. The other thing, some papers wrote that she was her girlfriend, which is not true: she was the ex-girlfriend,” he points out.

Growling in frustration, taking heavy, deep breaths in an unsuccessful attempt to compose himself, Morotsi admits he, too, was hurt by the new sentence.

The disappointed old man tells The Voice he is saddened by the way things were done, with the family being kept out of the loop.

“They should try to release Moses and they will see. I am not joking here; I am not playing mantlwane,” the elder growls with fire in his eyes.

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“And the other thing, they should bring the clothes that my daughter was murdered in, together with her cell phone. They were never returned to us,” ends the teary father, choked with emotion.

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