19 November 2012

Namibia: State Witness Admits She Lied Out of Fear

Windhoek — The latest statement taken from a State witness in the ongoing 'Well Murder Trial' in the Windhoek High Court revealed a sordid story of drugs, alcohol and death.

Albertina Swartbooi, who claims to have been present at the murders of Klaas 'Buruxhab' Titus (42) and John 'Jerry' McNab (39) during the period of July 16 to 18 2005 in the Mariental District, described what allegedly happened in a detailed statement she made in February this year.

The statement was the third one she made with the account differing from the previous two. Swartbooi, however, claimed to have lied in the previous two statements, as she was afraid for her life since she saw "how easy one could be killed".

Two men, Raynoldt 'Jackie' Windstaan and Johannes Eichab are accused of killing the deceased and dumping their bodies in a disused well at a farm near Kalkrand.

Swartbooi, in her last statement, says that a dream she had about one of the victims was what "opened my eyes and mind to reveal the truth about this incident and made me stop my lies and denial of the truth".

She explained that on Sunday July 17, 2005 at approximately midday they were at the farm of the Madjiedt family, Vrederus. She continued that it was herself, Wilma Madjiedt, Raynoldt 'Jackie' Windstaan, Pieter 'Ertjie' Kandetu, Cyril 'Pietie' McNab, his brothers Joshua and Kassie, Klaas 'Buruxhab' Titus, John 'Jerry' McNab and Johannes Eichab.

Swartbooi said that on that day the deceased Klaas 'Buruxhab' Titus did not go to tend to the livestock as he was ordered by Wilma Madjiedt, whose husband Dawid was locked up for stock theft. The deceased ('Buruxhab') bought a bottle of cheap wine from Wilma on credit. Wilma owned a bottle store at the farm.

She further explained that while she and 'Buruxhab' were busy drinking the wine, the accused Windstaan smoked a dagga cigarette laced with mandrax together with accused Eichab and the now deceased 'Jerry' McNab.

According to the statement, 'Jerry' then came out of the house and walked to where she and 'Buruxhab' were drinking, and all of a sudden 'Jerry' slapped 'Buruxhab' on the right cheek. She further said that 'Buruxhab' did not retaliate and only asked 'Jerry' why he slapped him.

According to the statement, Windstaan then joined the fray and swore at the two ('Buruxhab' and 'Jerry'), saying, "your vagina's children, what are you standing and talking about again?" She continued that Windstaan then hurriedly walked to a blue Ford Courier belonging to the detained Madjiedt from where he fetched a tyre lever.

She further said that Windstaan then "forcefully" started to beat 'Buruxhab' on the head with the tyre lever with the second blow clearly fracturing his skull, causing him to fall down and lay very still on the ground. She further said that 'Buruxhab' never moved from where he fell down and according to her observation died instantly from a profusely bleeding head wound.

She said Windstaan then threw the tyre lever to the ground and went back into the house and emerged from the other side of the house through the kitchen, where 'Jerry' stood.

According to the statement, 'Jerry' then started to move away and Windstaan saw him and called Eichab to come and assist him.

"Old friend come here and hold this guy for me, so that I can finish my work, I got a lot of other work to do," Windstaan allegedly said to Eichab.

She continued that Eichab hastily came from the living room and approached 'Jerry' at the corner of the house where he "grabbed' him on both arms holding him tight".

She further said that Windstaan, carrying a long table knife with a brown handle sharpened on both sides, started "stabbing 'Jerry' very aggressively from the back three times on the left shoulder blade." The number of stab wounds was admitted to be only one when she testified in court.

She continued that 'Jerry' who was stronger than both his assailants just kneeled down on the ground clearly weakened by the stabbing. She further said that the deceased then slowly lay down on the ground dying on his back. After the stabbing Windstaan coolly went to wash the blood off the knife and returned it to the kitchen, she related.

The statement continues that after Windstaan returned the knife to the kitchen, he called Eichab and Kandetu to carry the body of 'Jerry' while he (Windstaan) grabbed 'Buruxhab's lifeless body and carried it over his shoulder and dumped it under a tree.

According to the statement, Kandetu and Eichab were still struggling with the body of 'Jerry' when Windstaan came to assist them.

The three of them then loaded the bodies onto the back of the Courier bakkie and drove off and only returned when the sun was setting. "While they were away, Wilma Madjiedt called ... me to assist her in cleaning the blood of the now deceased persons," the statement continued.

"We started cleaning by using a shovel and a wheelbarrow and picked up all the fresh, but drying blood - first in front of the house, where the assault took place, and then finally at the place near the tree, where the bodies were placed."

She went on to say that they then cleaned the front side of the house by using a rake and splashing water to remove traces of blood completely.

According to the statement, Windstaan also asked Swartbooi to clean the blood from the bakkie when they returned, which she did with a hosepipe and running water. She continued that Windstaan also made her wash the clothes he wore during the murders, which was a black vest with holes in it and a jeans short.

Swartbooi who is currently facing cross-examination from Eichab's lawyer, Winnie Christiaans, on various occasions during the cross-examination admitted that she lied in the first two statements, but denied vehemently that the latest one also contains untruths.

Windstaan and Eichab face charges of murder and defeating or obstructing or attempting to defeat the course of justice. Both men have pleaded not guilty to the murder charges.

The State alleges that both men murdered Klaas 'Buruxhab' Titus and John 'Jerry' McNab. It is further alleged that they then unlawfully and with the intent to defeat or obstruct the course of justice threw the bodies of the deceased into a well on Farm Good Hope and they perpetrated this act while knowing or foreseeing the possibility that their actions may frustrate or interfere with police investigations into the disappearance and/or death of Klaas 'Buruxhab' Titus and John 'Jerry' McNab.

Windstaan is represented by Titus Mbaeva, while Eichab obtained the services of Advocate Winnie Christiaans, both on the ticket of the Directorate of Legal Aid.

Judge Naomi Shivute is on the bench, while Deputy Prosecutor General Erich Moyo is prosecuting. Both men remain in custody.

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