30 November 2012

Namibia: Lüderitz Rapist to Be Sentenced

LÜDERITZ resident Ralph Vukile Mtshibe reached a key milestone in his more than 20-year-long history of clashes with the law yesterday, when he was convicted in the High Court in Windhoek on two counts of rape.

Having stood trial before Judge Naomi Shivute on three charges of rape, two counts of kidnapping, and a charge of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, Mtshibe heard that he has been acquitted on three of those charges – but, crucially, he has also been found guilty of the other three crimes he was accused of.

Judge Shivute acquitted Mtshibe (37) on both kidnapping charges and one of the counts of rape. She found him guilty on the other two rape charges and of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm.

Mtshibe has a criminal record of ten previous convictions, the judge was informed after she had announced her verdict.

One of these previous convictions was on a charge of rape, which resulted in Mtshibe being sentenced in January 1997 to seven years’ imprisonment, of which two years were suspended.

Other crimes which Mtshibe has been found guilty of between 1989 and 2008 include housebreaking, theft, robbery, assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, and assault, the court was told.

In his trial before Judge Shivute, Mtshibe was accused of having kidnapped and raped an 18-year-old woman at Lüderitz on December 13 2003.

He was found not guilty on those charges.

The same woman was involved in an assault, committed by Mtshibe ten days later. He admitted that offence, and was found guilty on that charge yesterday.

Mtshibe was also accused of having kidnapped and twice raped a 19-year-old woman at Lüderitz on December 17 2005. The prosecution alleged that he had forced the woman to accompany him to a spot outside the town, where he raped her. He allegedly also held her captive as he forced her to go with him to his room, where he again raped her.

Judge Shivute convicted him on those rape charges, but acquitted him on the kidnapping charge, after finding that his alleged restriction of the complainant’s liberty of movement constituted the coercive circumstances which were an element of rape.

Both complainants in the matter testified during the trial that they had been raped by Mtshibe.

However, the complainant in the first alleged incident only laid a charge against him after he had assaulted her ten days later, and no medical evidence which could provide corroboration of her claim of having been raped was collected.

Judge Shivute said although the probabilities of the case favoured the version of that complainant, she was not satisfied that it had been proven beyond reasonable doubt that Mtshibe had committed those crimes in December 2003. He had to be given the benefit of doubt on those charges, she said.

In respect of the charges dating from December 2005, Mtshibe denied having met the complainant or raping her as charged. However, DNA matching Mtshibe’s DNA was found in that complainant’s private parts, with the court told that there was a chance of one in 450 billion that someone else might have the same DNA profile.

Judge Shivute said in light of the DNA evidence which linked Mtshibe to that complainant she was satisfied that it had been proven that he was the person who had raped the complainant.

Mtshibe is scheduled to return to court on February 11 for the hearing of further evidence and arguments before he is sentenced.

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