Sheep Theft Jail Term Slashed On Appeal

A PRISON term of 24 years that a repeat stock thief received in March 2009 has been cut to eight years in an appeal judgement delivered in the Windhoek High Court.

Although the severe minimum sentences for livestock thieves that were prescribed in the Stock Theft Act have been declared unconstitutional by two judges of the High Court, the courts’ view of stock theft as being a serious offence has not changed, Judge Christie Liebenberg said in the appeal judgement in which the prison term of Koeumls resident Simon Teister was cut by two-thirds.

Teister was sentenced in the Keetmanshoop Regional Court to 24 years’ imprisonment on 6 March 2009. He was sentenced after he had been found guilty of the theft of two sheep that were stolen and slaughtered at a farm near Koeumls near the end of December 2007.

Teister admitted having stolen one of the sheep. He told a magistrate that he stole and slaughtered the animal because he was hungry.

In the High Court’s appeal judgement, Judge Liebenberg dismissed an appeal by Teister against his conviction.

With regard to Teister’s appeal against his sentence, the judge noted that Teister had also been convicted of stock theft during 1995 and 2003, and that he had further been found guilty of other crimes – including theft, rape and assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm – before he was sentenced in the Keetmanshoop Regional Court.

Judge Liebenberg commented that “it seems fair to conclude that [Teister] was no stranger to crime when he decided to steal the complainant’s sheep and must have fully appreciated the consequences of his actions”.

The judge was not convinced by Teister’s claim that he stole the sheep because he had been hungry. If that was so, there would have been no need for Teister to steal two sheep, the judge said.

Teister’s actions rather tend to show that he was driven by greed more than anything else, and not by hunger, Judge Liebenberg said.

Teister was 36 years old at the time of his sentencing. He told the court that he was unemployed, was the father of three children, and was making a living from occasional employment, such as on farms.

Given his past criminal record and the need for a deterrent sentence, a lengthy prison term was inevitable in Teister’s case, Judge Liebenberg said.

He replaced the 24-year prison term with a sentence of ten years’ imprisonment, of which two years were suspended for a period of five years on condition that Teister is not convicted of stock theft committed during the period of suspension.

Judge Nate Ndauendapo agreed with the appeal judgement.

Charles Visser represented Teister in the appeal. State aocate Jack Eixab represented the State.

Source : The Namibian