Strangler’s Application for Leave to Appeal Dismissed

Judge Alfred Siboleka yesterday denied convicted tie strangler Gabriel Jonas Petrus leave to appeal against his 45-year sentence.

Petrus was sentenced to 45 years for the murder of his ex-girlfriend Elizabeth Ekandjo, in life a fourth year information technology student at the Polytechnic of Namibia (PoN). He was further convicted of kidnapping for locking Ekandjo’s roommate Erika Embashu in a wardrobe to prevent her from getting help.

He however did not apply for leave to appeal against the five-year sentence he received on the latter conviction.

Judge Siboleka said in his view and after careful consideration of the grounds on which the court’s sentence was challenged there were no reasonable prospects that another court may come to a different sentence.

He said this in view of the “manner in which Petrus took away the deceased’s life, which he expressly, and boastfully, described to Erika Embashu as a task well accomplished”.

Judge Siboleka said he was satisfied the court did not misdirect itself when “in the circumstances of this particular case” it imposed 45 years for murder and 5 years for kidnapping and ordered the sentences run consecutively.

The judge shot down the arguments of Sisa Namandje who appeared for Petrus on instructions of legal aid that the sentences imposed are startlingly inappropriate and induce a sense of shock.

He further said that Namandje’s argument that the 45-year sentence in respect of murder is inconsistent with other sentences in Namibia in similar cases is not sufficient as each case is decided on its own merits.

He said the Court of Appeal made it clear in earlier judgments that it supports the court’s view that sentencing discretion depends on the circumstances of a particular case and not on the existence of a sporadic sentence that could be imposed for similar crimes.

“The matter before court relates to the increasing killing of defenceless women which in this court’s view has gone out of control as alluded to by the number of pending cases where women were killed by their male partners,” Judge Siboleka stressed and continued that since the scrapping of the death penalty, sentences imposed in instances where the death penalty would have been imposed before the aent of the new constitution, would inevitably be long and such sentences could well be justified by the heightened incidents of violence.

He said that whether or not these lengthier sentences would fall within the bounds of what could be considered “proper or appropriate” sentences would depend on the facts of each case.

According to Judge Siboleka the circumstances of the present case in which Petrus terminated the life of the deceased by virtue of being an ex-boyfriend, showed his mentality that he was entitled to terminate her life and then make sure that she was actually dead, not to leave her alive on this earth. This he did by actually touching the deceased and called out her name several times, the judge recounted. The judge said he has several pending cases before him where men have resorted to killing their domestic partners in a domestic set-up.

This, he said, shows that despite the community’s loud and clear plea for a halt in the killing of defenceless women, it has increased instead of abating. According to Judge Siboleka the facts in this case clearly show that Petrus devalued the life of the deceased when he strangled her to death for saying no to the continuation of their romantic relationship.

He said this clearly reveals a very serious breakdown of law and order, a total disregard for other people’s right to privacy, peaceful sleep and in particular their precious lives.

He said that it is the duty of the court to stand firm and punish convictees of such heinous crimes sufficiently, such that the community would feel protected and dissuaded from taking the law into their own hands.

Source : New Era