KATIMA MULILO - A former police officer was sentenced to an effective 20 years imprisonment on Friday at the Katima Mulilo Circuit High Court for having killed his daughter in 2020.
Sydney Ikosa (37), was found guilty of murder, negligence and deliberate abuse of his deceased two-year-old Joy Ikosa, as well as common assault under provisions of the Domestic Violence Act, by Judge President Petrus Damaseb at the end of last month.
Under the contravention of the Child Care and Protection Act, he received a sentence of six months imprisonment on the charge of common assault.
On count one, in contravention of the Child Care and Protection Act, on abusing and deliberately neglecting Joy on various occasions, Ikosa received six years’ imprisonment, with count three being that of murder, whereupon he was sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment.
Sentences of count one and count two were ordered to run concurrently with the sentence of the murder, being that of count three.
Judge Damaseb said the murder of Joy was committed in circumstances where Ikosa chose its timing and method so as to not make it too obvious what happened, and possibly to escape the consequences of his actions.
“There is no acceptance of responsibility on your part for what you did. You did not own up to your conscious to tell the court what really happened on that day”, said the judge.
Damaseb stated that Ikosa did not show any remorse, and instead blamed Joy for causing her own death in that she fell down on the floor of her home and sustained such severe injuries to put her in a comatose state, and he expected the court to believe him.
“Abuse and deliberate neglect is a crime of exceptional seriousness because it was committed against a small, helpless and defenceless child by two people, who were supposed to love and care for her”, he said.
Damaseb added that Joy was not particularly welcome in the home of Ikosa and his wife at that time when she met her death because she was a product of an indiscretion of a man who lived in that home with a woman whom he wronged.
“You were the last line of defence, and yet did not take that seriously.
That little girl had no voice of her own, with no freedom of action. She could not speak out, and she could not run away”, Damaseb emphasised.
He added that evidence and witness statements pointed to the fact that Joy had been suffering for several months from abuse and neglect.
He, however, said that he does not see Ikosa as being a danger to society as he is a first-time offender with no previous convictions.
Ikosa’s former wife, 38-year-old Chuma Simakwezi, a mother of four children, three with Ikosa, was found guilty of abuse and deliberate negligence under the contravention of the Child Care and Protection Act for abusing and deliberately neglecting Joy on various occasions.
She received a wholly suspended sentence of six years imprisonment, on condition that she is not convicted on claims of abuse and/or deliberate neglect of a child during the period of suspension.
Damaseb also found that the couple failed to change or increase the diet for the little girl after the nurse who attended to her had diagnosed her with malnutrition.
The post-mortem report also revealed that the child was malnourished, collaborating evidence from State witnesses who testified that the child’s skin was wrinkled, and she looked hungry most of the time.
Judge Damaseb was concerned during the mitigation process that if both parents were to be sent to prison, the wellbeing of the three children they have together would be affected. Therefore, other options had to be exhausted, taking into account that Simakwezi is also seven months pregnant with another man’s child.
Damaseb observed that due to her non- participation in the murder of Joy and the fact that she has a chronic illness, the situation would have been completely different had she taken part in the murder.
“If Simakwezi was to be imprisoned, the minor children would have to be left in the care of family members, who may not have the means to provide for them,” he continued.
Judge Damaseb found that subjecting her to some form of community work would no doubt affect her ability to earn an income by catching fish, which she sells herself to provide for the children, and would also be difficult for her to care for the minor children. Thus, a community sentence was therefore not in the best interest of the minor children too.
Damaseb, however, felt that a suspended sentence would hang over Simakwazi’s’ head as she is about to become a stepmother again to the children of her new partner, as those children will need protection, including those she has with Ikosa.
“She must walk out of here in the knowledge that any repeat of what she did to little Joy will have dire personal consequences,” stated Damaseb.