Accused Disowns Stabbing Admission

A MAN accused of killing his pregnant girlfriend and her unborn child in a stabbing incident at Swakopmund near the end of 2011 is now disowning a key admission that he made with his first appearance in court.

Testifying in his own defence in the Windhoek High Court at the end of last week, Elifas Hailonga (32) denied that he told a magistrate in the Swakopmund Magistrate’s Court on 19 December 2011 that he had stabbed his girlfriend in the back with a knife, with fatal results, three days earlier.

The record of the proceedings in the Swakopmund Magistrate’s Court that day shows that Hailonga wanted to plead guilty to a murder charge and that he told the magistrate he had stabbed his girlfriend, Helena Nghipunyati (23), in the back on 16 December 2011.

However, Hailonga told Judge Nate Ndauendapo last week that he did not make such an admission before the magistrate. He also denied that he had told the magistrate that Nghipunyati was quarrelsome.

Hailonga further denied the version of events that his defence lawyer, Titus Mbaeva, gave to the court as a plea explanation on Tuesday, when he pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and assault. According to the plea explanation Hailonga’s version was that he threw a knife at Nghipunyati and that the knife struck her on her back.

During his testimony Hailonga denied that he stabbed Nghipunyati or that a knife thrown by him had struck her. He claimed that he threw a knife, which landed on the ground in front of her, when she ran away from him after he had arrived at her house. The knife did not touch her, and he also did not touch her that day, he said.

Hailonga is accused of having assaulted Nghipunyati by slapping her or hitting her in the face, before he allegedly stabbed her in the back when he pursued her as she first ran behind a curtain in the house and then ran out of the house.

With his first court appearance Hailonga told a magistrate that he chased after Nghipunyati when she ran out of the house. He said he stabbed her in her back outside the house, but he did not intend to kill her and was actually aiming at stabbing her in the buttocks.

Nghipunyati was pregnant with a girl, medical doctor Jean-Paul Musasa, who carried out an autopsy on her, also testified last week. Dr Musasa found that one of Nghipunyati’s lungs had collapsed, and concluded that she had died as a result of a stab injury to her back.

The prosecution, which is being represented by State aocate Palmer Kumalo, is alleging that Nghipunyati was stabbed with a kitchen knife, of which the blade was about 12 centimetres long. Hailonga has told the court that the alleged murder weapon is not familiar to him and that he threw an Okapi pocket knife at Nghipunyati.

He claimed he pursued Nghipunyati when she ran away from him because he wanted to ask her why she did not greet him and why she was avoiding him.

Hailonga also denied that he had told a neighbour, who was one of the witnesses for the prosecution, that he had stabbed somebody with a knife. He did not even see his neighbour when he returned home from his girlfriend’s house, he said.

The court has heard that Hailonga and Nghipunyati were involved in a relationship for about two years. Hailonga described their relationship as loving and understanding on Friday. Nghipunyati was in about the fifth month of her pregnancy when she was killed.

Judge Ndauendapo is due to hear closing arguments tomorrow on the verdict that is to be delivered in the trial.

Source : The Namibian