Judges Repeat Stern Warning to Killers

NAMIBIA’S courts must send out a clear and g message that anyone who takes the life of another person will be punished severely, a judge has warned in the Windhoek High Court.

The incidence of murders has reached an alarming level in Namibia and the country’s courts “must play their role to curb this evil”, Judge Nate Ndauendapo said in an appeal judgement in which he and Judge Christie Liebenberg decided to increase the ten-year prison term of a man convicted of murder to 20 years’ imprisonment.

The appeal judgement was delivered on Monday.

Namibia is involved in a war against crime, which at the moment shows no signs of abating, Judge Ndauendapo remarked. He added that the situation called for exceptional measurements, in which the courts must play an important role.

He said in his view the sentence of an effective ten years’ imprisonment that was imposed on Salom Shifela (38) when he was sentenced on a charge of murder in the Windhoek Regional Court in September last year “does not send a g enough message that the courts will severely punish those who murder others”.

Judge Ndauendapo decided to set aside Shifela’s sentence and to replace it with a sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment.

Shifela was convicted of the murder of a 34-year-old man, Haishana Venasius, who died after he had been stabbed in the neck with a knife on 8 July 2007.

Shifela and Venasius had been in each other’s company at a bar in Windhoek on the evening in question, Judge Ndauendapo recounted some of the evidence heard during Shifela’s trial. During the course of the evening Shifela punched Venasius in the face with a fist after Venasius had poured himself a glass of wine from a bottle that Shifela had bought.

Other people at the bar separated the two men and Shifela then ran to his house.

Venasius also left the bar. He went home, where he went to his room to sleep.

He had not been home long before Shifela knocked at his door.

When Venasius came out of his room, Shifela stabbed him in the neck with a knife, and then ran away.

With his trial in the Windhoek Regional Court Shifela was convicted of murder committed with a direct intent to kill. He was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment, of which five years were suspended.

In his judgement on Shifela’s appeal against his sentence, Judge Ndauendapo said the evidence clearly showed that Shifela planned to kill Venasius.

Shifela’s defence lawyer, Titus Ipumbu, argued with the hearing of the appeal that the Regional Court magistrate who sentenced Shifela over-emphasised the seriousness of the offence of which he was convicted. Judge Ndauendapo found that in fact the magistrate under-emphasised the seriousness of the crime and the interests of society.

“Murder is a serious offence and very prevalent in our society,” the judge said. “The sanctity of life is protected by our Constitution. 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.”

Judge Liebenberg agreed with the judgement.

State aocate Shakwa Nyambe represented the State in the appeal.

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Source : The Namibian