New Era (Windhoek)

Namibia: Infanticide Suspect Denied Bail

Walvis Bay — An 18-year-old learner attending the Gabriel Taapopi Secondary School in the Oshana Region, who is accused of murdering her newly born baby girl at the coastal town of Walvis Bay, was denied bail yesterday by Magistrate John Sindano, following her first appearance in the Walvis Bay Magistrate's Court.

Maria Ikela is accused of murder and concealment of birth after she suffocated her newly born baby by stuffing pieces of paper into the helpless infant's mouth last month, presumably to stifle any sounds from her.

According to the Regional Crime Investigations Coordinator in the Erongo Region, Deputy Commissioner Ottilie Kashuupulwa, Ikela allegedly gave birth alone on Saturday, October 10 at her place of residence in Riethaan Street in Kuisebmund and she then hid the baby in the family's bathroom, after stuffing the infant's mouth with the pieces of paper.

"She told the police that the baby's father apparently refused to acknowledge the pregnancy, resulting in her committing such a crime," Kashupuulwa said. Kashupuulwa further said Ikela feared that the family would notice the baby in the bathroom.

According to Kashupuulwa, Ikela removed the baby from the bathroom and took it to a room where she kept the baby under a bed. "Her family apparently heard the baby crying and confronted her. She then confessed and took her relatives to the room where she had kept the baby," Kashupuulwa said.

The mother called a relative, also a police officer to the house to question Ikela and to lay formal charges. Ikela was then arrested and taken to the Walvis Bay State Hospital for observation and was released the following day.

New Era yesterday learned that Ikela apparently arrived two weeks ago in the harbour town after completing her Grade 12 examinations in the north.

"She is a bright child. We were expecting her to go to university next year. We didn't even know or notice that she was pregnant," a shocked relative told this newspaper. Ikela will remain in police custody until her next court appearance on December 19, 2012.

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