11 December 2012

Namibia: Criminals Warned With Killers' Sentencing

A WARNING that criminals who go about disrupting people’s lives and committing robbery and murder would, without exception, be made to feel the full wrath of the law was reiterated in the High Court in Windhoek on Friday.

These words of warning were repeated by Judge Alfred Siboleka during the sentencing of the three men convicted of robbing and murdering a Windhoek resident, Cornelius Jacobus (‘Kerneels’) Swiegers (53) on January 18 2007.

Having already spent about five years and ten months in custody following their arrest, Festus Nepembe Kiimba (34), Max Kleopas (31), and Josef Taukondjo Shikongo (35) were sentenced to an additional effective 35 years’ imprisonment each.

Judge Siboleka sentenced each of the men to 25 years’ imprisonment for murder, and to a ten-year jail term on a charge of robbery with aggravating circumstances. He ordered that these sentences should be served consecutively.

“This court has repeatedly stated that those who take it upon themselves going around disrupting and ending other people’s lives, would without fail be made to feel the fullest wrath of the law,” the judge said.

He also declared Kiimba, Kleopas and Shikongo unfit to possess a firearm for five years after their eventual release from prison.

The three men were accused of attacking Swiegers, a friend of his, George Isaaks, and the latter’s two teenaged daughters while they were on a hill in the Goreangab Dam area on the outskirts of Windhoek. Swiegers and his friends were planning to spend a relaxed evening in that area, observing and photographing the unusually bright Comet McNaught in the night sky and having a braai out in the open.

Swiegers and company had built a small fire when the three accused men came walking past them, greeting them peacefully, Judge Siboleka recounted some of the evidence before him.

“The victims did not know that the same persons would later come back when darkness fell to launch an armed attack on them,” he said.

After the sun had set, the three men returned to where Swiegers and his friends were. They encircled them and then confronted them. In this process, Kiimba fired a shot at Swiegers, hitting him in the chest.

The bullet passed through Swiegers’s chest and also struck Shikongo, who was standing on the other side, in the lower abdomen.

Swiegers collapsed to the ground. While he lay there dying, the robbers emptied his pockets as they looked for something to steal.

Various items - including two cellphones, cameras, a GPS device, wallets and money - were robbed from Swiegers and his friends.

Some of these goods, such as the cellphones and the GPS device, were later sold by Kiimba, who was in the company of Kleopas when he made one of those deals, the court heard during the trial.

The three accused denied the charges during their trial. Following their conviction, though, defence lawyer Winnie Christians, who was representing Kiimba, told the court that Kiimba is sorry about what had happened. Christians said according to Kiimba he was intoxicated that evening, their intention had been to only rob Swiegers and company, and that the fatal shot had gone off accidentally.

State advocate Ethel Ndlovu prosecuted. Kleopas was represented by defence lawyer Mese Tjituri. Lucia Hamutenya represented Shikongo.

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