19 November 2012

Namibia: Arguments Heard Over Teacher?s 'confession'

THE murder trial of retired teacher David de Jay is due to continue today with the hearing of further arguments on the admissibility of a disputed alleged confession which he made a month after his arrest.

Judge Alfred Siboleka started hearing oral arguments on the admissibility of the statement made by De Jay before a Magistrate at Keetmanshoop on March 16 2009, and of a letter which he wrote to a senior police officer on February 18 2009, in the High Court in Windhoek on Friday.

De Jay is claiming that he was assaulted and threatened by police officers before he wrote the letter, and that he was also influenced by a church pastor to make the alleged confession.

His trial started before Judge Siboleka in June last year, when the accused pleaded not guilty to counts of murder and defeating or obstructing the course of justice, or attempting to do so.

De Jay (61) is denying that he murdered his wife, Tina de Jay (56), near Seeheim south-west of Keetmanshoop on February 13 2009.

The prosecution is alleging that De Jay killed his wife by stabbing her at least six times with a knife.

The accused indicated in a plea explanation at the start of his trial that his wife, Tina de Jay, had been killed by two unknown men whom he had seen running away from his car, where his wife was sitting while he went for a stroll on a bridge over the Fish River.

Included in the evidence so far heard by Judge Siboleka is testimony from a church pastor who told the court that De Jay had given him conflicting versions of the events around his wife’s death.

One of these versions of the retired teacher was that he and his wife had made a suicide pact, and that he killed her as part of such an agreed plan between the two of them. Other versions were that he could remember nothing about the incident, or that he had found her stabbed on the ground next to his car.

The court has also heard that De Jay made the alleged confession after the pastor had encouraged him to tell the truth.

“Encouragement in influence,” defence lawyer Boris Isaacks argued on Friday, as he endeavoured to persuade the judge that De Jay had been influenced to make that self-incriminating statement.

If the pastor’s influence is taken away, De Jay would not have made that statement, Isaacks argued.

He also argued that visible scars on De Jay’s back are proof of the truth of his claims that police officers had assaulted him with a sjambok when he was interrogated on February 17 2009.

De Jay did not report that alleged assault earlier because he “was in fear of death”, having been instructed not to tell anyone about it, Isaacks argued.

State advocate Palmer Kumalo however argued that the accused did not report the injuries or the alleged assault earlier because his claims in this regard were a fabrication.

He did not report the alleged assault to the pastor or to his son-in-law, who visited him in jail, and did not tell the magistrate when he made the alleged confession to her, Kumalo recounted.

This was despite the fact that the magistrate specifically asked him whether he had been threatened by anyone in order to make a statement, Kumalo argued.

On the pastor’s encouragement to De Jay to tell the truth, Kumalo argued that this is not the same as being told to go and make a confession.

He argued that it had been the accused’s desire to go and unburden himself after he had been encouraged to tell the truth.

After the hearing of further arguments on the admissibility of the statement and letter by De Jay today, the main part of the trial is expected to continue while Judge Siboleka considers the ruling that he has to make in the trial within a trial.

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