Suspected Arsonist Koen Pleads Guilty

Former treasurer of Outjo, Dawid Johannes Koen, pleaded guilty to charges of arson and defeating the course of justice in the Windhoek High Court yesterday.

He however pleaded not guilty to the main charge of fraud containing 112 counts and the first alternative to the fraud charge which is theft by reference to a general deficiency in money or other property. Koen’s state funded lawyer, Jan Wessels, told Judge Alfred Siboleka that his client is admitting guilt on the second alternative to the fraud charge, theft, but only on certain counts. These include 60 of the counts involving a total of N$1.1 million.

Koen pleaded not guilty to 52 of the counts contained in the alternative theft charge totalling an amount of N$551 229. State Aocate Ed Marondedze accepted the plea and closed the state’s case. Koen was then convicted on the charges to which he pleaded guilty. In mitigation Koen revealed details of alcohol misuse and maltreatment of his wife and three children to the extent that his wife of 27 years divorced him. He said that he used to drink excessively and that led to him not being able to honour his financial obligations. His habit further led him to start siphoning off money from his employer. He said that at first he thought he could take a little and replace it at the end of each month.

This however spiralled out of control and he kept taking more and more money. He further told the court that this state of affairs led to him to drink even more to fight of fears that he would be caught. He said he was diagnosed with chronic depression and took prescription medicine during that period, which he gulped down with alcohol worsening his already unstable mental state. The turning point came when he learnt that a team of forensic auditors were dispatched from Windhoek to look into the affairs of the Outjo local authority. In a drunken stupor he decided to get rid of the evidence and to commit suicide afterwards Koen told the court. He said after he set fire to the building he drove about 60km out of Outjo where he proceeded to consume some more alcohol to give him the courage to end his life.

“But I did not have the guts, My Lord,” he informed the court. He then called some friends including a pastor who had been trying to reach him all night and they persuaded him to hand himself over to the police according to Koen. He also indicated to the court that he already paid over his pension money totalling more than N$380 000 to the municipality as compensation and was willing to further reimburse the town council with his bail money of N$50 000 and a further N$300 000, which he will borrow from family members.

Source : New Era