Appeal Against Murder Sentence Stumbles At First Hurdle

AN ATTEMPT by the killer of a young Polytechnic of Namibia student to appeal against the 50-year prison term that he received at the end of his trial in June failed to get past the first hurdle in the Windhoek High Court yesterday.

The sentence of an effective 50 years’ imprisonment that Gabriel Petrus received on June 20 was suited to the circumstances of his case and an appeal against that sentence would have no reasonable prospects of success, Judge Alfred Siboleka said when he dismissed an application by Petrus for leave to appeal against his sentence.

Petrus (32) was sentenced to 45 years’ imprisonment on a charge of murder and a further five-year jail term on a count of kidnapping. He was sentenced after he admitted that he murdered his former girlfriend, Polytechnic student Elizabeth Tuwilika Ekandjo (21), during the early morning hours of 6 June 2012 in the room where she lived in Windhoek.

Judge Siboleka also convicted Petrus on a charge of kidnapping. The judge found that Petrus had kidnapped Ekandjo’s roommate, Erika Embashu, when he ordered her to get into a wardrobe in her and Ekandjo’s room and locked her inside the wardrobe.

Embashu was locked up in the wardrobe while Petrus was murdering Ekandjo by strangling her with a tie. After he had killed Ekandjo, Petrus released Embashu from the wardrobe.

Petrus committed the murder after he had intruded into the two young women’s room while they were asleep.

Embashu testified that before Petrus left their room, he started to cry and told her that he was sorry that he had killed her friend. He also went to the spot where Ekandjo lay on the floor, called out her name, and said that he wanted to make sure that she was dead, as he did not want to leave her behind alive.

In his own testimony Petrus told the court that Ekandjo “was the one I loved”. He said he strangled her because their relationship had come to an end.

With Petrus’ sentencing Judge Siboleka warned that men who kill women for daring to say no to them should expect to be punished severely for their crime. The judge told Petrus that he wanted to send out a very g message to all men who still believed that a refusal from a woman was something that was punishable by death. The message that should go out to would-be offenders was that women had the right to say no, Judge Siboleka said.

He also remarked that while Namibia’s courts have repeatedly issued warnings to potential killers, to the effect that they would be punished heavily if they murdered somebody, the killing of women in Namibia has been continuing at an alarming rate. The unrepentant conduct of those who did not seem to take the courts’ warnings seriously would not dissuade the courts from dealing severely with men who murdered women, especially within a domestic setting, he said.

Judge Siboleka added in his judgement yesterday that women are among the most vulnerable members of society. For that reason it is the courts’ duty to stand firm and sufficiently punish people convicted of committing heinous crimes against women, so that the community would feel protected and be dissuaded from taking the law into their own hands, he said.

The judge said the facts in Petrus’ case show that he did not value Ekandjo’s life, but instead showed a total disregard for other people’s rights to privacy, peaceful sleep and especially their right to life.

In his view the court did not misdirect itself when it imposed a sentence of 45 years’ imprisonment on Petrus for murder and an additional five-year prison term for kidnapping, Judge Siboleka said.

With his application for leave to appeal having been refused, Petrus would have to direct a petition to the Chief Justice to ask to be allowed to pursue an appeal if he still wants to appeal to the Supreme Court against his sentence.

Aocate Ethel Ndlovu prosecuted during Petrus’ trial and the hearing of his application for leave to appeal. Petrus was represented by defence lawyer Sisa Namandje with the hearing of the appeal application.

Source : The Namibian