21 January 2013

Namibia: Discontented Convict Fires Lawyer

Windhoek — Murder convict Cornelius Ganuseb fired his defence counsel, Hipura Ujaha, on Friday last week.

Ganuseb told Judge Kato van Niekerk that he wished to apply to the Directorate of Legal Aid for a new lawyer after Ujaha failed to convince the judge to acquit (him) Ganuseb on the main charge of murder, but rather on attempted murder, during submissions on sentencing in November last year.

Ganuseb was convicted of killing Namibian Defence Force (NDF) officer, Lance Corporal John Justice Links (28), with a homemade knife outside a bar at Gobabis on the evening of June 3, 2010. He was however acquitted on a second charge of assault with the intent to cause grievous bodily harm for allegedly stabbing one of the state witnesses, Brussels Matroos, who during his testimony claimed that Ganuseb "kept on stabbing the deceased even after he fell down".

An autopsy report provided to the court indicated that Links had multiple stab wounds to his head, right shoulder, neck, and abdomen.

The two fatal wounds were to the chest. Ganuseb denied that he inflicted those wounds, instead claiming that he only stabbed the deceased twice, once on the shoulder and once in the abdomen. Ganuseb remains in custody.

Judge Van Niekerk granted Ganuseb's request and postponed the matter to February 14 to enable him to apply for a new Legal Aid lawyer. During the submissions, Ujaha argued that Ganuseb took the court into his confidence when he made admissions to the court to the effect that he indeed participated in the brawl that ensued on that fateful night.

Judge van Niekerk, however, in her judgment rejected Ganuseb's version of events and indicated that several of the state witnesses testified that Ganuseb was the one who inflicted the fatal wounds. She told the court that while she accepts that a lot of people were involved in the commotion, the bottom line is that various witnesses fingered Ganuseb as the one who inflicted the stab wounds.

Judge Van Niekerk accepted Prosecutor Ethel Ndlovu's arguments that the evidence of the state witnesses corroborated each other, albeit with some slight differences.

This Judge Van Niekerk agreed with and also said that while Ganuseb admitted to stabbing the deceased he could not say who else, if any was involved in the fracas.

She further agreed with Ndlovu that Ganuseb was the one who inflicted all the stab wounds on the deceased and found that he indeed had an intention to kill the deceased as he went straight for him during the fight. Ganuseb should have foreseen that death may occur since the areas on the body he aimed for are "vulnerable areas" as the prosecution argued, Judge Van Niekerk noted.

During her submissions Ndlovu also argued that the fact that Ganuseb used a knife with a 'V' point which is sharpened on both sides should be an indication to the court that he intended to cause serious harm, the judge pointed out and said that the knife's design was clearly for stabbing as was demonstrated in court and that it was testified that the accused made the knife himself, so "he was aware that it was a lethal weapon".

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