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Murder accused soldier testifies in own defence

2021-03-04  Roland Routh

Murder accused soldier testifies in own defence
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A former Namibian Defence Force (NDF) soldier, who is accused of fatally shooting his girlfriend and mother of his now six-year-old son in Katutura during 2016, yesterday testified in his own defence before Judge Naomi Shivute in the Windhoek High Court. 

Johannes Nduvange Neuaka (42) is facing one charge of murder read with the conditions of the Domestic Violence Act, two counts of attempted murder, one count of assault read with the provisions of the Domestic Violence Act, one count of discharging a firearm in a public place, alternatively negligent handling of a firearm and counts of possessing a firearm and ammunition without a licence. 

All charges are in connection with the death of Zya Juliet Shane Rittmann (25), whom he allegedly shot in the head on 21 January 2016. 

Testifying in court yesterday, Neuaka said he was with a business associate on that fateful morning of 21 January – and while waiting for him at his house near a kindergarten, he overheard some young men talking about a fight they witnessed the previous night. 

He further said that one of the men told the other that he threw away a firearm in their vicinity the previous night. 

It was at this point that he saw a shiny object – and upon closer inspection, he saw it was a firearm. 

“As I am a soldier, who is very well trained in handling firearms, I thought by myself to take responsibility for it. I then made the weapon safe and put it in front of my jeans,” he told the court. 

He went on to say that he and the business associate – identified as Kaizer Shetekela – then drove in Shetekela’s car to drop his son off at his mother. 

When they arrived at the residence, he further said, his son got out of the vehicle and ran to his mother, with him following, carrying the boy’s clothes and a red bag in which he kept his documents. 

He further said that after he handed the items, including a cell phone charger the victim had forgotten at his place, he told her he was leaving, and she stopped him, asking why he was in such a hurry. 

“I then told her that I picked up a firearm and was on my way to hand it in at the police station,” Neuaka told the court. 

He further said that the victim then asked to see the firearm and he told her to wait until he makes it safe.  

According to Neuaka, he was standing with his back to the victim when he took the firearm from his waist, before removing the magazine – and in the process of him cocking the weapon to slide the bullet from the chamber of the firearm, the victim grabbed his arm from behind and pressed it against the wall. 

“I did not even have my finger on the trigger – and suddenly, a shot went off,” he said. 

He continued that he saw the victim half squatting against the wall.  

He added he removed the firearm from her grip and walked to the car. 

“I did not see any blood or that the deceased was hurt before I walked to the car in a state of shock and told Shetekela to drive – and that a shot went off accidentally over the deceased’s head,” he added.  

Neuaka further said that while they were driving, he received a phone call from a person he can’t remember, who told him he just shot and killed his girlfriend. 

He then called his cousin and arranged with him to hand himself over to the police, which he did, Neuaka told the court.  

The trial continues today and Neuaka remains in custody.

- rrouth@nepc.com.na


2021-03-04  Roland Routh

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