Oshakati High Court Judge Eduard Kesslau convicted a security guard of murdering his girlfriend over suspect text messages.
Mawaya Bernard Lionga faced three charges of murder, read with the provisions of the Combating of Domestic Violence Act, unlawful possession of a firearm, and unlawful possession of ammunition.
Kesslau convicted him on all charges.
According to the charge-sheet, Lionga shot Melody Mabita on 17 March 2020 at Katima Mulilo as a result of text messages he found on her cellphone.
He pleaded not guilty, and said he placed his service pistol on the table in the house, and a shot went off which struck the deceased on her thigh. He disputed admitting to witnesses that he had shot the deceased, or informing them about the text messages on the deceased’s phone.
Lionga was employed at a security company, and had no authorisation to take the firearm home.
A witness told the court that after he heard a loud noise from the house where the accused and deceased were living,
he found the lifeless body of the deceased with a gaping wound on her upper left thigh, and a crying three-week-old infant on the floor.
The judge said the undisputed evidence is that the accused and deceased were in a domestic relationship, and that she died as a result of a gunshot fired from a firearm the accused took home. He said the version of the accused that the firearm went off by itself is not feasible.
Kesslau said the behaviour of the
accused after the incident speaks volumes. He left the severely injured deceased bleeding and an infant on the floor, and fled to a different country. His version of events, the judge added, can safely be rejected as false beyond a reasonable doubt. While the evidence regarding the murder is circumstantial, the evidence presented paints a real picture. He said the State witnesses corroborated each other on material aspects.
Both the neighbour and the brother of the accused testified that the reason for the shooting was text messages found on the deceased’s phone by the accused. Furthermore, the judge said, there were unsolicited admissions by the accused that he shot the deceased because of messages on her phone, which was reliable evidence. His behaviour after the incident is also a clear indication of his guilt, Judge Kesslau stated.
The only aspect to be determined is the form of intent that the crime was committed with. According to the judge, the location of the wound on the upper thigh of the deceased was close to her private parts.
The doctor who performed the autopsy believed that this was not a typical wound often found in murder cases, the judge said.
He further said the crime was in all probability committed out of jealousy and anger due to the messages found on the phone of the deceased. “The location of the wound in close proximity to the private parts of the deceased is an indication that in all probability the main aim of the accused was to punish the deceased,” the judge said.
The court went on to say that Lionga had been trained in the use of firearms and with a few years’ experience of working as a security guard, it follows that he was aware that a shot with the said firearm and at close range could possibly cause a fatal injury.
In the end, the judge said, the State proved murder with direct intent.