New Era (Windhoek)

Namibia: State Rejects 'Guilty' Plea

Windhoek — Self-confessed wife killer, 50-year old Gerson Uri-Khob, pleaded guilty to a charge of murder on Tuesday, but State Prosecutor Belinda Wantenaar rejected his plea and proceeded to call witnesses.

Uri-Khob is charged with the murder of his wife, Lydia Uri-Khos, as well as for assaulting his 15-year-old daughter. The accused, however, pleaded not guilty to the assault charge, claiming he has no recollection of it.

The deceased had a protection order out against Uri-Khob. It is alleged Uri-Khob killed his wife on February 11, 2011 near Goreangab Dam by hitting her with a piece of iron all over her body, and then assaulted his daughter when she tried to intervene.

According to court records, Uri-Khob then went on to stab Uri-Khos at least eight times with a knife in her neck and she succumbed to the stab wounds at the scene.

The State's first witness was the daughter, who may not be named because of her age. She testified that she saw her father beating her mother with a piece of iron.

According to the girl, when she saw what was happening she went to insert herself between her parents and when she turned her head to look at her father he struck her with the iron on her mouth.

She could not recall the exact number of times her mother was struck with the iron, but recalled that her father continuously hit her mother on the front and sides of her body.

She said that after she was hit on the mouth she went to rinse her mouth, and saw her mother running into the house. Uri-Khob then followed his wife into the house (shack).

She ran to a neighbour's house, but was able to see the accused take out a knife from his front pocket as he entered the house. She admitted that the door of the house was open only slightly and that she could not see clearly inside.

However, the witness said that after a while her father came out of the house and tried to cut his own throat. When she went back inside the house she found her mother under a table sitting in a pool of blood, not breathing. She ran outside and her father re-entered the house, after which she did not see anything.

State pathologist, Dr Yuri Vasin, told the court that the deceased suffered eight stab wounds, some of them defensive wounds on her hands, but that the fatal blow was a wound that cut through the main artery in her neck, severing the trachea.

Uri-Khob admitted stabbing his wife, but denied any knowledge of the beating with the iron pipe. He explained to the court that he went to his wife's house the previous evening and gave her money to buy some food. He said that his wife was sleeping out and that when he complained about it, she chased him away.

He related how when his late wife invited him to her house he declined, because of the protection order, but that she insisted, saying who could possibly tell on him. He further said that after his overnighter at his late wife's place he left early the next morning.

But he missed some money that he had in his trouser pocket and returned to the house to look for it. He related that when he returned to the house, his daughter informed him that her mother was not there and he left, only to return later and to be told that his late wife was at a shebeen with her 'boyfriend'.

According to Uri-Khob, when he confronted his late wife about the missing money, she hit him with a glass in the face and that was when he took a knife that was lying on a table and stabbed her.

During cross-examination, Uri-Khob refuted his daughter's testimony that he first hit the deceased with the iron.

Wantenaar who was clearly unhappy with Uri-Khob's vague answers to her questions told him "you went to your wife's house to kill her and after you slit her throat you tried to cut your throat, but did not succeed 'unfortunately'."

During submissions yesterday, Wantenaar told Judge Nate Ndauendapo that Uri-Khob should be found guilty on both counts. She said that Uri-Khob lied to the court when he claimed not to have beaten both the deceased and his daughter with the iron pipe.

She told Judge Ndauendapo that Uri-Khob went to the house of his wife with the direct intention to kill her, that is why he did not stop at one or two stabbings, but continued with the stabbing until he was sure his wife was dead.

While the assault on his daughter was the direct result of her inserting herself between her mother and her assailant, Wantenaar argued that Uri-Khob should have foreseen the possibility of her getting hurt as he continued hitting the deceased with the iron pipe.

As a result of that, she said, the court must find him guilty on the count of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm. While he admitted to the murder charge, Wantenaar argued, Uri-Khob wants the court to believe that he had no intention of killing her.

But, according to the prosecutor it is clear from the evidence of the daughter that he went to the house for just that reason. She reasoned that the fact that he brought an iron pipe along and had the knife in his pocket is ample evidence that he had a direct intention to kill the deceased.

While he did not dwell on the murder charge, Uri-Khob's defence counsel, Willem Visser, argued that his client could not be convicted on the assault charge. He said that the blow the daughter suffered was "an unfortunate accident". He asked Judge Ndauendapo to find that his client had no intention to hit his daughter since her own testimony that she inserted herself between her mother and father and the fact that Uri-Khob was hitting around her at her mother's sides, prove that the blow was accidental.

He said the daughter's evidence illustrates that she had her back to her father and was only hit when she turned her head to look at her father. He further argued that Dr Vasin testified that the blow she suffered to her lip was not necessarily delivered by the iron pipe, but could have come from a different weapon such as a fist or boot.

Judge Ndauendapo will deliver his judgment on March 26 next year.

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