School Gang Rapists Sent to Prison

Four young men convicted of committing a gang rape at an Okakarara school hostel nearly six years ago, face spending close to a decade in prison after being sentenced in the Windhoek High Court on Friday.

The trial of the four men ended with Judge Nate Ndauendapo sentencing two of them – now aged 23 and 21- to an effective eight years’ imprisonment each. They had been convicted on six counts of rape each. They were sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment on the first count, and to concurrent terms of seven years in prison on each of the other five charges.

Their two co-accused – both now 22 years old and found guilty of four charges of rape – were sentenced to an effective prison term of seven years each. They were sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment on the first charge and to concurrent prison sentences of seven years on each of the other three charges.

“The accused have not shown any remorse for their actions,” Judge Ndauendapo said during the sentencing. “I observed them closely when they testified and they displayed a sense of arrogance as if the complainant deserved what had happened to her.”

He recounted that the complainant told the court that the incident has hurt her and affected her name and dignity badly. “She testified that she wanted the court to protect women and children, so that what happened to her does not happen to others,” he said.

It was evident that she felt humiliated and was still traumatised by the event, he said.

The four young men were charged with having raped a 17-year-old girl at a school hostel at Okakarara on 23 May 2008. They denied the charges, but after a drawn-out trial Judge Ndauendapo convicted them in August last year.

Judge Ndauendapo said on Friday that he was mindful of the fact that the four were juveniles when they committed the crimes, that they were first-time offenders and that he believed they stood a good chance of being rehabilitated.

He noted that three of the accused were 16 years old at the time the gang rape was committed, while one of them was 15. Their youthfulness cannot shield them from being sent to prison, though, he indicated.

Young offenders cannot hide behind their youth to escape punishment after they have committed serious crimes, the judge said.

The complainant testified during the trial that she was raped by two of the accused after they had pulled her into a boys’ toilet at the school hostel. She said they pinned her down on the floor and took turns raping her in one of the toilet cubicles. They left her in the cubicle afterwards.

The girl told the court she was on her way to the girls’ hostel in a shocked and crying state when she encountered the third accused. He grabbed her by her hair, took out a knife with which he threatened her, and pulled her towards the boys’ hostel, she said.

At the hostel, he pulled her into a room where the other three accused were also present, she said. She testified that the four took turns holding her down on a mattress while each of them raped her.

Each of the four accused was convicted of having raped the girl himself. Two of them were also convicted of having raped the girl a second time. Each of the four was further found guilty on additional charges of rape for having helped the other accused rape the complainant.

Judge Ndauendapo noted that there has been a public outcry about gender-based violence in Namibia. “The courts are duty-bound to respond to the outcry and to send a clear message to the offenders and would-be offenders that the court will impose severe sentences,” he said.

The four accused had been free on a warning from the court until their sentencing.

They were represented by defence lawyers Monty Karuaihe, Titus Mbaeva, Brownell Uirab and Edwin Coetzee. State aocate Karin Esterhuizen prosecuted.

Source : The Namibian