Strangler Awaits Kidnapping Charge Verdict

SELF-CONFESSED strangler Petrus Gabriel Jr should hear at the start of next week if he is also convicted of kidnapping, in addition to the murder charge on which he pleaded guilty this week.

Gabriel’s defence lawyer, Willem Visser, argued in the Windhoek High Court yesterday that Gabriel should not be found guilty on a charge of kidnapping, on which he denied guilt on Monday. State aocate Ethel Ndlovu, however, asked Judge Alfred Siboleka to find Gabriel guilty of kidnapping as well.

Gabriel (32) has admitted that he murdered his former girlfriend, Elizabeth Tuwilika Ekandjo (21), on 6 June 2012 in the rented room where she lived in Windhoek’s Khomasdal area. He killed Ekandjo by strangling her with a tie. In a plea explanation that was provided to the court after Gabriel pleaded guilty to a charge of murder, he claimed he killed Ekandjo because they had an argument on the previous day.

In the second charge that Gabriel is facing the prosecution is alleging that he kidnapped Ekandjo’s roommate, Erika Embashu, when he locked her in a wardrobe in their room.

Embashu testified on Monday that after Gabriel had apparently entered her and Ekandjo’s room through an open window, which was not protected by burglar bars, around 01h00 on 6 June 2012, he ordered her into a wardrobe, which he then locked. When he let her out of the wardrobe about 15 minutes later, she saw Ekandjo lying on the floor of the room, covered with a blanket.

The door of the room had been locked and the key removed from the door, Embashu said.

She testified that Gabriel spent about 40 minutes with her in the room after he had let her out of the wardrobe. During that time, he checked the text messages on Ekandjo’s phone, questioned Embashu about whether Ekandjo had a new boyfriend, and checked Ekandjo’s Facebook profile, the court was told.

Embashu also testified that Gabriel told her that he was going to commit suicide. She said he started to cry and told her that he was sorry that he had killed her friend, before he went to the spot where Ekandjo lay on the floor, called out her name, and said that he wanted to make sure that she was dead, as he did not want to leave her behind alive.

Ekandjo “was the one I loved”, Gabriel told the court when he testified yesterday. He said he strangled Ekandjo because their relationship had come to an end.

The reason why he had locked Embashu in the wardrobe was not to keep her captive, but to prevent her from seeing what he was going to do in the room, he said.

Visser argued that since it was not Gabriel’s intention to deprive Embashu of her freedom of movement when he locked her in the wardrobe he should not be convicted of kidnapping.

Ndlovu argued that the evidence before the court indicated that Embashu wanted to get out of the room, but found the door locked and the key missing, before Gabriel locked her in the wardrobe. After she had been let out of the wardrobe she remained in the room only out of fear and because the door was still locked, Ndlovu argued.

When Gabriel put Embashu in the wardrobe he wanted to deprive her of her freedom of movement, with the result that he should be found guilty of kidnapping as well, Ndlovu argued.

Judge Siboleka said he would deliver his verdict in respect of the kidnapping charge on Monday next week.

Gabriel has been kept in custody since his arrest two years ago.

Source : The Namibian