A LEGAL loophole appears to have given businessman Lazarus Shaduka the gap that he used to leave Namibia after the Supreme Court convicted him of murder and sentenced him to 20 years' imprisonment late last week.
A police spokesperson, Deputy Commissioner Edwin Kanguatjivi, said yesterday afternoon that Shaduka had crossed the Namibian border into Angola at Oshikango on Thursday at 14h40.
Kanguatjivi said by yesterday, Shaduka had not officially returned to Namibia. If he is back in the country, he crossed the border at a place that was not demarcated as a border post, he said.
The police spokesperson confirmed that the police are looking for Shaduka. "Wherever he is, he is being sought by the police."
Kanguatjivi asked anyone with information about Shaduka's whereabouts to contact their nearest police station.
Prosecutor General Martha Imalwa told The Namibian on Friday that she had been informed by the police that Shaduka had crossed the border into Angola. She said she told the police that he must be apprehended so that he can start to serve the jail term the Supreme Court sentenced him to on Thursday.
In terms of current Namibian law a person involved in an appeal in a criminal case is not required to be present in court when the appeal court hands down its judgement, as the Supreme Court did shortly after 10h00 on Thursday.
Shaduka was also not present in the Supreme Court when the court's judgement was delivered and his conviction on a charge of culpable homicide was changed to a conviction on a charge of murder. His legal representative was present in court, though.
The Supreme Court also replaced the sentence of one year's imprisonment, or the payment of a fine of N$25 000, which he received at the end of his trial in the High Court in Windhoek on August 30 2010, with a sentence of 20 years' imprisonment.
Shaduka (39) was convicted of murdering his wife, Selma Shaimemanya (33), in the couple's home in Klein Windhoek on July 13 2008. Shaimemanya died from a single gunshot to her upper back.
He was arrested on the night of his wife's death, and spent more than two years in custody before he was released after he had paid the N$25 000 fine on the day his trial ended.
A warrant of detention which was issued at the Supreme Court following the delivery of the appeal judgement was supposed to spell the end of the more than two years and three months that Shaduka has been free following the end of his trial. But with Shaduka not present at court, the police first had to find him to execute the warrant.
Imalwa said given the effect that an appeal judgement in such a case could have on someone who is free while an appeal about his or her criminal case is pending, the fact that the person is not then required to be at court when the judgement is delivered can cause a problem, as has now been demonstrated.
She said this is an aspect of the law that would have to be looked into.
Imalwa also said Namibia has an extradition agreement with Angola. Once Shaduka has been tracked down in Angola, it should not be difficult to extradite him to Namibia, she said.
The killing of Shaimemanya resulted in one of Namibia's most high-profile trials on charges involving alleged domestic violence in recent years.
The murder which Shaduka was convicted of is a crime that is "grave and of the most serious nature," Judge of Appeal Sylvester Mainga stated in the Supreme Court's judgement.
"Since time immemorial, society has set itself against it. The right to life accorded to all human beings in Namibia is therefore also the first and most fundamental of all rights protected and entrenched in our Constitution," Judge Mainga said.
He added that it was aggravating that the murder had been committed in a domestic setting.
The Namibian public has repeatedly demonstrated its concerns about the prevalence of domestic violence in the country, the judge remarked. Despite the promulgation of the Combating of Domestic Violence Act of 2003, such crimes are still being committed almost unabated, Judge Mainga said, before stating: "This cannot be allowed and, whenever required, the punishment meted out by courts of law to address such crimes, should reflect the seriousness with which it is being regarded."