Windhoek — Salmon Nakale (34) yesterday left the Windhoek High Court with a heavy heart and a final glimpse of liberty, after he was sentenced to 50 years behind bars for a double murder conviction.
Nakale was found guilty of the murders of his ex-girlfriend and mother to his two sons, Rebecca Katanga (23) and her sister, Lusia Ndahambelela Erastus (30), at Mariental on May 9, 2009, by Judge Alfred Siboleka in August this year.
Katanga was shot in the chest and left shoulder. One of the bullets struck her heart, and the other went through her trachea and lodged in her neck, while Erastus was shot twice in the chest. During the sentencing, Judge Siboleka noted there was a separate intent in the execution of each of the killings and as directed by evidence each victim was struck by two distant direct gunshots.
The judge noted violence committed against defenceless women in a domestic setting is serious and that perpetrators must be removed from society for a long period. He said the N$7 000 already paid as compensation in terms of the culture and traditions of the Oukwanyama Traditional Authority has a bearing on the sentence, and cannot be ignored, and the fact that the convict has already spent four years and four months in custody must be taken into account. The judge said however that the fact that Nakale used a 9mm pistol during the commission of the double murder is an aggravating factor.
Judge Siboleka declared Nakale unfit to possess a firearm for a period of five years, to take effect after he serves his sentence.
Judge Siboleka said during the sentencing that the "court is alive to the elements of punishment such as prevention, deterrence, reformation and retribution," and added that there should be an endeavour to balance these elements with the interests of the accused, society and the crime. "The personal circumstances of the accused play an important role and cannot be overlooked and since personal circumstances vary from one accused to the next, sentences for similar offences may not necessarily be the same," according to the judge.
Judge Siboleka said Nakale throughout his trial denied any wrongdoing on his part, instead putting the blame on his late girlfriend for pulling the trigger on herself and the second deceased, a contention that the court rejected outright.
He noted that although Nakale says he regrets what happened, that is by far outweighed by the wrong he has done. "Regarding the crimes, murder is serious and usually attracts a severe punishment," the judge remarked. He noted the victims were robbed of their lives, a fundamental right enshrined in the constitution and that the convict robbed their children of having mothers who could love and take care of them as they grow up.
Judge Siboleka said evidence showed that Nakale went to the house of the deceased with a loaded gun, with the firing pin set on the 'fire' position and that within three to four minutes of his entering the house gunshots went off, followed by a female voice pleading with the convict to stop, but to no avail as some gunshots still followed after the convict emerged from the shack.
The judge noted that Nakale coolly put away his pistol after the killings, walked to his car and drove off. He said two defenceless women were killed in their own home, in which they should be safe from all forms of harm.
Nakale's lawyer Titus Ipumbu on instructions from the Legal Aid Directorate in the Ministry of Justice already indicated to Judge Siboleka that he would appeal against the conviction.