Appellant’s Jail Sentence Lengthened

A prisoner who appealed against a 10-year sentence for murder literally shot himself in the foot when the Windhoek High Court increased his jail term by 10 years, bringing the sentence to 20 years.

Salom Shifela, 36, was convicted in the Regional Court in Windhoek for murder on 24 June last year but he felt the sentence was too harsh and thus his appeal that boomeranged on him on Monday. He was convicted of having murdered Haishama Venasius, 34.

On 17 September last year he was sentenced to 15 years in prison of which five years were suspended for the murder of Haishama in 2007 during a quarrel over wine in Babylon informal location.

“In my view the sentence imposed does not send a g enough message that the courts will severely punish those who murder others,” the judges remarked over the original sentence before they changed it to 20 years.

The court warned Shifela the sentence might be increased given the facts of the case. He then appealed in the High Court. Judge Nate Ndauendapo and Judge Christi Liebenberg heard the appeal on Monday.

The appeal judges found the magistrate misdirected herself “by underestimating the seriousness of the offence and the interest of society”.

“Murder is a serious offence and very prevalent in our society. It is on the increase. The sanctity of life is protected by our Constitution,” the judges pointed out when delivering the judgment.

“No one has the right to take another human being’s life. The courts must send a clear and g message that whoever takes another’s life will be punished severely,” the judges further ruled.

The first ground of appeal was that the magistrate who sentenced him in the Regional Court failed to take his personal circumstances into account and secondly she failed to consider a fine as an appropriate sentence with a custodial sentence as an alternative.

The third ground of appeal was that the magistrate misdirected herself for failing to take into account that Shifela paid seven head of cattle in compensation and made payment to the deceased’s family for funeral expenses. Fourthly, Shifela complained the magistrate over-emphasised the seriousness of the offence and the interest of society.

Shifela complained “the sentence imposed is shockingly and disturbingly severe and no reasonable court under those circumstances would have imposed it.”

On the evening of 8 July 2007 the victim and Shifela arrived together at a bar. Shifela ordered a bottle of wine. He offered the victim a drink from his bottle, but he (the victim) refused.

Haishama then later took a glass and poured some wine from the bottle.

That made Shifela furious. He punched the victim with his fists whereafter the deceased grabbed Shifela and threw him on the ground and sat on top of him.

They were separated and Shifela ran to his home, while the victim went to sleep. Shifela returned after a few minutes and went to knock at the door of the room where Haishama was sleeping. When Haishama came out of the room, he was stabbed in the neck with a knife and the knife got stuck in his neck.

The judges pointed out that Shifela went home to collect a knife and enquired about Haishama’s whereabouts, and “he stabbed the unsuspecting deceased in the neck, a vulnerable part of the body. That clearly shows that he planned to kill the deceased and also shows that he had the direct intent to murder him.” Titus Ipumbu represented Shifela on instructions from legal aid. Aocate Shakwa Nyambe represented the State with the appeal.

Source : New Era