17 December 2012

Namibia: Titsol Wants to Appeal Conviction

Shortly after Constable Gert Hendrik Titsol was sentenced to two years wholly suspended for three years on condition he is not found guilty of the same offence again, his lawyer, Christie Mostert, indicated to Judge Nate Ndauendapo his client wishes to appeal the conviction.

Titsol was charged with criminal homicide by Judge Ndauendapo in October for the death of Noël Calvin Thompson (42) who died shortly after being released from the Keetmanshoop police holding cells.

Thompson was locked up in a cell at the Keetmanshoop police station on the evening of March 31, 2007 after his wife had asked the police to remove Thompson from her house, since he was drunk and causing trouble.

During sentencing Judge Ndauendapo remarked he closely observed Titsol during the trial and following his conviction and was convinced that Titsol showed genuine remorse for what happened to a person he called "a friend".

According to the judge, the testimony of the deceased's wife also confirmed that Titsol genuinely cared for Thompson since he (Titsol) had counselled him on various occasions over his drinking.

However, the judge said the personal circumstances and the nature of the crime, plus the interests of the society, must be taken into consideration when determining an appropriate sentence, which must satisfy the objectives of punishment.

In this instance, Judge Ndauendapo said, it will be difficult to justify direct imprisonment since Titsol is a first offender, and is also a pastor with six congregations under him.

But Judge Ndauendapo reiterated Titsol dismally failed to carry out his duties as he did not properly search Thompson when he locked him up with other inmates - two mentally disturbed persons and Charles Vries who was acquitted on the murder charge against him.

According to the judge, Titsol made two fundamental errors that fateful night - firstly, that he ignored the advice of health professionals to leave Thompson in hospital after he suffered the injuries, and secondly, that instead of taking the deceased back to hospital the next day after his release, he took him home where he succumbed to his injuries.

In the meantime, Robert Thompson, the eldest brother of the deceased expressed the family's disappointment with the sentence, saying that while they are not looking for revenge, they feel that a custodial sentence should have been fair.

According to Thompson Sr, not even a fine would have been enough since "what monetary value can one put on a life?" However, he thanked the prosecution for doing a good job under difficult circumstances and noted not all facts were put before the court and that the judge had to work with what was before him.

Thompson Sr said Titsol was not forthcoming in his evidence and was not entirely truthful to the court, but concluded that at least the family can now put the ordeal behind them and find closure.

Deputy Prosecutor General Belinda Wantenaar represented the State.

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