Long Delay On the Cards in Keetmans Murder Trial

A YOUNG man accused of raping and murdering a 25-year-old woman at Keetmanshoop in February 2011 faces a long wait of more than a year before his partly-heard trial is due to continue in the Windhoek High Court.

In the latest indication of the sorry state of the High Court’s congested criminal case roll, the trial of Melvin Raymond Hanse (24) was postponed for a period of 15 months on Thursday last week. Hanse’s trial, which started in April this year, is now scheduled to continue only from 2 to 13 November 2015.

The reason for the long postponement is that the court roll of Judge Alfred Siboleka, who is presiding over Hanse’s trial, is already booked full for the rest of this year and next year, with the dates in November the earliest available ones that could be used for the continuation of the trial.

Hanse is remaining in custody in the meantime.

He is accused of having raped and murdered the late Anna Martha Vries (25) at Keetmanshoop during the night of 9 to 10 February 2011. Vries died after she had been stabbed and cut with a knife.

Hanse is also charged with a count of defeating or obstructing the course of justice, or attempting to do so, with the prosecution alleging that he cleaned Vries’ blood off his clothes and knife and that he hid the knife in an attempt to hide his involvement in her death.

Hanse has pleaded not guilty to all three charges.

When his trial resumes the court will continue to hear testimony in a trial within a trial to determine whether the prosecution may use an alleged confession that Hanse made to a magistrate at Keetmanshoop and the record of the plea that he gave to the charges during an appearance in the Keetmanshoop Magistrate’s Court as evidence in his trial.

Hanse is claiming that the alleged confession and the record of his plea should not be allowed as evidence in his trial, because he was unduly influenced before he made the statement to the magistrate and gave his plea in court, his rights were not properly explained to him, and he was assaulted by police officers.

Judge Siboleka has heard that Hanse and Vries were seen in each other’s company at a bar at Keetmanshoop on the evening of 9 February 2011. Vries was found dead the next morning near another bar.

Hanse’s defence lawyer, Joshua Kaumbi, has told prosecution witnesses that according to his client he walked with Vries from one bar to the next. Hanse’s version was that he left Vries alive and well at one of the bars when he went home, Kaumbi has said.

The medical doctor who carried out an autopsy on Vries has told the court that he recorded a total of 54 stab and cut wounds on her body.

Six of the stab wounds were penetrating injuries into the chest of Vries, with one of those a stab wound to her heart that would have been a fatal injury, Dr Yury Vasin has testified.

Vries also had cut wounds to her neck. Those injuries, too, were regarded as fatal, with the major blood vessels in her neck having been severed, Dr Vasin told the court during his testimony in June.

One of the first exhibits to be submitted to Judge Siboleka as part of the evidence in the trial is a record of the pointing out of scenes that Hanse did in the presence of a police inspector on 15 February 2011.

Hanse told the officer he and Vries had a quarrel after they had left a bar together. He said he stabbed Vries under her left breast after she had broken a beer bottle and tried to stab him with a piece of the broken bottle. Their quarrel continued and he then stabbed her several times more while she was aiming at him with the broken bottle, he said.

Hanse also pointed out the place where he said Vries had fallen to the ground after he had stabbed her in the neck. He proceeded to have intercourse with her at that spot, he told the police officer.

He later discovered that Vries had died, he said.

State aocate Karin Esterhuizen is representing the prosecution.

Source : The Namibian