Police Officer Denies Murder Charge

A POLICE officer accused of murdering a young man and wounding another person in a shooting incident in Windhoek two and a half years ago denied guilt on four charges in the Windhoek High Court yesterday.

The trial of police officer Justin Munsu Simataa (30) started before Judge Nate Ndauendapo with Simataa pleading not guilty to counts of murder, attempted murder, alternatively negligent discharge or handling of a firearm, malicious damage to property, and discharge of a firearm in a public place or on a public road.

Simataa told the judge on Monday that he had not yet found the time to pay the lawyer who should represent him during his trial. By yesterday, defence lawyer Mbanga Siyomunji was present in court and ready to begin with the trial, though.

The state is alleging that Simataa murdered the 25-year-old Firmino Fabrice Mael in Khomasdal in Windhoek during the early morning hours of 26 October 2012, tried to murder a friend of Mael, Millikan Likando, damaged the car in which Mael and Likando were sitting when they were shot, and discharged his pistol in a public place or on a public road.

Mael was killed when he was struck by nine shots that Simataa fired into the car in which he and friends were sitting, while Likando was struck by three shots, but survived, the prosecution is charging.

In a pre-trial document filed with the court, Simataa has claimed he was acting in self-defence, or was trying to effect an arrest, when he fired the shots.

Likando, who was the first state witness to testify after Simataa gave his plea to the charges, told the judge he had a couple of drinks with his uncle and Simataa, who is a friend of his uncle, during the afternoon of 25 October 2012.

During the early morning hours of the next day, he, Mael and friends of theirs went to a nightclub in Khomasdal where he again met Simataa, he said.

They were about to leave the nightclub after buying drinks when Simataa complained that Mael had stepped on his shoe, Likando said. He testified that Mael apologised and gave Simataa N$10 as a sign of his apology, telling him he could buy another drink with it.

Mael and his friends were back in their car when Simataa approached the vehicle, opened the door and told Mael that he did not want the N$10, since he had his own money, Likando related.

He said Mael got angry and a fight started between him and Simataa after he got out of the car. Likando said he helped break up the fight and he, Mael and their friends again got into Mael’s car.

Mael had started the car and was about to drive away when Simataa approached, armed with a gun, and stopped close to the window on the driver’s side of the car, Likando said.

“He stood there with a gun and started shooting,” he said.

“He was shooting at Firmino,” Likando said. “The gunshots kept on going on.”

By the time the shooting stopped, he saw that Mael had been killed.

Likando said he was also injured, with one bullet hitting him in the side of his chest and stopping close to his heart, while another bullet passed through his upper right arm and a third lodged in his right thigh.

“Doctors thought it was a miracle I survived,” Likando told the court.

He said because of the sensitive placement of the bullet in his chest, doctors have decided not to remove the projectile. He spent close to a month in hospital recovering from his injuries, Likando said.

The trial is continuing.

State aocate Constance Moyo is prosecuting.

* It was incorrectly reported yesterday that Simataa is a member of the Windhoek City Police. In fact, he is a member of the Namibian Police.

Source : The Namibian