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Supreme Court alters long sentences

2024-04-05  Roland Routh

Supreme Court alters long sentences

Three acting judges of appeal last week adjusted inordinately long sentences imposed on inmates convicted of gruesome murders, rapes and robberies. 

The judges also antedated the sentences to the date of sentencing.

Judge Theo Frank, who wrote the judgement, with judges Hosea Angula and Rita Makarau agreeing, said the sentences were against the spirit of the Gaingob judgment, which declared sentences in excess of 37 and a half years as inhuman and degrading. 

According to the judges, a person sentenced to life imprisonment is eligible for parole after serving 25 years, while inmates sentenced to prison terms longer than 37 and half years will have to wait for longer before becoming eligible for parole. 

The 14 inmates who lodged the appeal against their prison terms are Esegiël Gariseb, who was sentenced to direct imprisonment of 42 years on convictions of murder and four counts of housebreaking with intent to rob and robbery. 

The Supreme Court set aside the sentence and imposed a prison term of 37 and a half years. 

The sentence of Frans Basson, convicted of killing his girlfriend by stoning her to death and assaulting a friend of the victim was altered from 45 years to 37 and a half years. 

In the case of Silas Nero and Manfred Gariseb, who were convicted of murdering a tourist and robbing his fellow travellers, the court dismissed their appeal. 

According to the judges, the sentence imposed, although outside the parameters of the Gaingob judgment, is justified due to the gruesomeness of the crimes they committed. 

Judge Frank, who co-wrote the Gaingob judgment, said it is not set in stone and does provide for sentences outside its boundaries, considering the circumstances. 

With regards to Elia Avelinu and Elifas Ndalusha, convicted of murder and two counts of robbery plus defeating the course of justice count, the judges found that their sentences of 44 years and 42 years, respectively, are too harsh and substituted them with sentences of 37 and a half years. 

Jakobus Jossop, who was convicted of killing two men in Keetmanshoop and sentenced to direct imprisonment of 60 years was substituted with a sentence of 21 years on the first murder and life imprisonment on the second murder conviction. 

However, it was ordered that the life sentence would only commence after serving 14 years on the 21-year sentence. 

In relation to Sakarias Mathias, who shot and killed a young woman at his bar in Katutura, the judges found that although his sentence was within the parameters of Gaingob judgment, the sentence imposed was inappropriate, as the offence was committed in a spur of the moment, and a result of anger and envy. 

He, thus, substituted the 35-year sentence with one of 22 years. 

In the case of Charles Namiseb, who was convicted of raping an elderly woman and assisting his accomplice to rape her after assaulting her and her husband, as well as robbing them, the judges determined that the 57-year imprisonment doled out to him was outside the Gaingob scope. 

Although rape sentences are prescribed and cannot be reduced, the judges did order them to be served concurrently and reduced the sentence to 37 and a half years.

Sylvester Beukes, who was convicted of eight murders and sentenced to 105 years by Judge President Petrus Damaseb, was not so lucky. 

The judges, who described his deeds as barbaric, monstrous and extreme, said it would be correct to ensure the permanent removal of the accused from society. 

They substituted his 105-year sentence to 30 years for the first murder and 35 years for the second murder followed by six life imprisonment sentences. 

The judges, however, ordered that the second murder sentence will only start after Beukes served 15 years on the first murder count, and the life sentences will run concurrently with the sentence on the second murder count. 

With regards to Ian Jones, who was sentenced to an effective jail term of 58 years on charges of murder, housebreaking with intent to rob and robbery with aggravating circumstances, kidnapping and defeating the course of justice, the Supreme Court judges reduced his sentence to 37 and a half years. 

The sentence of Aloyis Ditshabue, who killed his two wives two years apart, and was sentenced to 60 years in prison, was also altered to 21 years for the first murder and life imprisonment for the second murder. 

The life sentence will, however, only commence after he served 10 years on the first murder conviction. 

Tuhafeni Kutamudi, who was sentenced to 79 years after he killed three people over a disagreement over a traditional knife, was luckier. 

The judges reduced his sentence to 35 years. 

In the matter of Filemon Nkandi, sentenced to 70 years for murdering a mother and son over a disagreement on a traditional drink, the judges found that the trial judge had the determination to let the convict live the rest of his life in prison. 

They substituted his sentence with two life imprisonment sentences. 

In the matter of Gabriel Petrus, convicted of murder and kidnapping, and sentenced to 45 years imprisonment, the Supreme Court judges found that the sentence was outside the parameters of Gaingob and substituted it with a sentence of 37 and a half years.

The appellants were represented by Mbanga Siyomunji, Salomon Kanyemba, Grace Mugaviri on instructions of Legal Aid and Sisa Namandje on private instruction for Mathias. 

The State was represented by advocate William Mokhare SC, assisted by Veiko Alexander, instructed by the Government Attorney.  

2024-04-05  Roland Routh

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