Strangler Gets 50 Years in Prison

MEN who kill women for daring to say no to them should expect to be punished severely for their crime, a judge warned in the Windhoek High Court on Friday.

The warning came from Judge Alfred Siboleka when he sentenced self-confessed strangler Petrus Gabriel (32) to an unusually heavy prison term of 50 years over the murder of Gabriel’s former girlfriend and the kidnapping of her roommate a year ago.

With the sentencing of Gabriel the court wanted to send out a very g message to all men who still believed that a refusal from a woman was something that was punishable by death, Judge Siboleka said. The message that should go out to would-be offenders was that women had the right to say no, the judge said.

While Namibia’s courts have repeatedly issued warnings to potential killers, to the effect that they would be punished heavily if they murdered somebody, the killing of women in Namibia has been continuing at an alarming rate, the judge observed.

He added that the unrepentant conduct of those who did not seem to take the court’s warnings seriously would not dissuade the court from dealing severely with men who murdered women, especially within a domestic setting.

Gabriel was sentenced to 45 years’ imprisonment for the murder of his former girlfriend, 21-year-old Polytechnic of Namibia student Elizabeth Tuwilika Ekandjo, and to a five-year prison term for the kidnapping of Ekandjo’s roommate. Judge Siboleka ordered that the sentences should be served consecutively.

Ekandjo was killed on 6 June last year. Gabriel strangled her with a tie in the rented room that she shared with a friend, Erika Embashu, in Khomasdal in Windhoek.

Gabriel, who admitted guilt on a charge of murder two weeks ago, entered the room at about 01h00, while the two young women were sleeping. After Embashu had been woken by a cry for help from Ekandjo, she realised that she could not flee from the room because the door had been locked and the key removed from the lock.

She told the court that she saw Gabriel standing over Ekandjo, who was being held down on the floor of the room, when she switched on a light. Embashu related that Gabriel told her to get into a wardrobe, in which he then locked her up.

When he let her out of the wardrobe she saw Ekandjo lying on the floor of the room, covered with a blanket, Embashu testified.

She said Gabriel spent about 40 minutes with her in the room after he had released her from 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 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.

In his own testimony Gabriel told the court that Ekandjo “was the one I loved”. He said he strangled her because their relationship had come to an end.

Gabriel apologised for the murder in a letter that was given to Judge Siboleka last week. Acknowledging that his deeds were unacceptable, he asked for the forgiveness of the court, Ekandjo’s family and the nation.

Judge Siboleka said during the sentencing that the most disturbing aspect of Gabriel’s crimes was that he had invaded the privacy of two young women and pounced on them while they lay sleeping. The two women’s peaceful rest was savagely disrupted, he said, commenting that such a breakdown of law and order was totally unacceptable and should be met with an iron fist of justice.

The judge continued that Ekandjo was killed with premeditation and in a gruesome way. Gabriel has proven himself to be a dangerous person, who needed to be removed from society, Judge Siboleka said.

The 45-year prison term given to Gabriel on the murder charge is one of the heaviest prison sentences meted out to someone in Namibia on a single murder charge to date.

Defence lawyer Willem Visser represented Gabriel during his trial. State aocate Ethel Ndlovu prosecuted.

Source : The Namibian