Ovitoto Murder Case Closed After Dna Evidence

THE trial of a man accused of having robbed, raped and murdered an elderly resident of the Ovitoto communal area almost five years ago is scheduled to continue in the Windhoek High Court next week, after the prosecution closed its case against the accused last week.

Paulus Titus (28) is expected to present the case in his defence to Judge Nate Ndauendapo when his trial continues. With State aocate Karin Esterhuizen having wrapped up the prosecution’s case against Titus, Judge Ndauendapo has postponed Titus’ trial to Wednesday next week. The results of DNA analysis done at a Canadian laboratory were part of the last evidence that Esterhuizen presented to the court before closing the State’s case. According to that evidence, DNA test results link Titus to a sample that was collected from the private parts of his alleged victim, the 75-year-old Erica Tjiho.

Titus is accused of having murdered Tjiho, who was his employer, in the Ovitoto area east of Okahandja on 1 September 2009. He went on trial on counts of murder, rape and robbery with aggravating circumstances in November 2011, when he pleaded not guilty to all three charges.

The court has heard that Tjiho was found dead inside her locked house on the date in question. The prosecution is alleging that she had been assaulted by being punched and hit with stones and pieces of wood, and that she had also been strangled and smothered with a cushion. It is further alleged that she had been raped. Titus was arrested two days after the incident.

On the day after his arrest, he made a statement before a magistrate at Okahandja in which he admitted having assaulted Tjiho. He told the magistrate that he had slapped Tjiho in the face with an open hand a number of times. He claimed he assaulted Tjiho in anger because he had not been properly paid for the work he had been doing for her son.

Tjiho was alive when he left from her house, Titus claimed. He however saw that she had a nosebleed after he had slapped her, he said.

A forensic scientist from the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT), Steen Hartsen, was one of the last witnesses to testify as part of the case for the prosecution.

Hartsen first travelled to Namibia to testify in the trial in June last year, but did not get his turn on the witness stand at that stage after Titus’ defence lawyer withdrew from the case because of conflicting instructions he said he had been receiving from his client.

With his return to court, Hartsen testified that DNA analysis done at the BCIT showed that the DNA profile of a sample of a known male that had been sent to the laboratory matched the DNA profile extracted from another sample described as having been collected from a female person’s private parts.

The court has also been told that the sample of the known male was taken from Titus, while the sample from the female’s private parts was collected from the body of Tjiho.

Titus, who is being kept in custody, is being represented by defence lawyer Hipura Ujaha after the withdrawal of his previous legal representative.

Source : The Namibian