21 January 2013

Namibia: Truck Driver Takes Own Life

Windhoek — A 57-year-old truck driver shot himself in the neck in full view of his 21-year-old girlfriend, members of the Namibian police and neighbours say, minutes after setting his shack alight in Katutura's Havana informal settlement on Saturday.

New Era arrived minutes after the deceased, Raphael Eksteen, committed suicide at around 18h00 with his body still lying at the scene. The fire brigade had just put out the fire in the shack, which was reduced to ashes.

The police at the scene were gathering evidence and attending to the body, while curious onlookers and neighbours tried to come to terms with the gruesome affair. Those who knew the deceased as well as those who witnessed the incident were in shock and some cried, while others looked on in total disbelief.

Although details on the exact reason why Eksteen pulled the trigger on himself remain sketchy, his 21-year-old partner of two years was in a position to shed some light on the tragic incident.

According to the girlfriend, who spoke on condition of anonymity, arguments featured quite frequently in their relationship, so much so that she contemplated moving out of the shack which they cohabited.

The couple had just arrived from Angola on Friday. "We argued on Friday, but then we stopped. We argued again on Saturday." She said she asked him about his communication with a witchdoctor and that led to a verbal confrontation.

"I saw a text message (on Saturday) that he (the deceased) sent to a witchdoctor. He told the witchdoctor that he wanted me to come back (to live with him) because I had gone to Gobabis in December. I also saw the account number where he was supposed to deposit money for the witchdoctor," the young woman related.

"The people (cousin and aunt) told me to not argue with him," she said. It was then that the deceased asked his partner, her cousin and her aunt to leave his shack, because he wanted to take a bath, she alleged.

"My cousin told him that I should stay since she (the cousin) was cooking for him and he wanted us out of the shack, so she told him that I should rather cook for him. But he refused and pushed me out of the shack, saying he wanted to be alone," she continued.

Shortly after that, she heard the deceased cocking his gun. "I told my sister that we should go to the police station, because I even thought he was going to shoot me," she said. Not too long after that they heard a gun shot go off. They went to the Wanaheda police station and arrived back at the shack in the company of police officers. It was quiet in the shack when the party arrived at the shack.

The police then started calling his name while trying to open the door of the shack in which the deceased had locked himself. The police managed to open the door, but by then the deceased had already turned on the gas in the shack and set the shack on fire. He emerged from the shack with the gun pointed under his chin, the girlfriend went on to explain.

"The police and onlookers begged him not to shoot himself, but seconds after that he shot himself and fell back inside the shack which was already on fire. The neighbours quickly pulled him outside," the young woman said, while her traumatised sister who witnessed the incident nodded silently in agreement.

When New Era visited the girlfriend of the deceased yesterday, some of his relatives were present. "He often spoke of death," said one relative. "He always spoke of death and he said he wanted to die alone and when he dies none of his relatives would inherit his belongings," added the girlfriend.

Cases of domestic violence, baby dumping and cases in which men or women kill themselves, before killing their partners are a frequent occurrence in Namibia. The Councillor of the Samora Machel Constituency, Abisai Angula, was also present at the scene of the suicide.

"These things that are happening now are very sad and there is no need for people to kill themselves like this. My message to the nation is that if they are confronted with problems it is better for them to look for help, especially counselling to avoid committing suicide."

President Hifikepunye Pohamba last year expressed serious concern over the escalating crimes of passion occurring in the country. "Women and vulnerable children no longer fear snakes or dogs, but they tremble in fear of another human being. The world is looking at what kind of society we are in this country," Pohamba said at the inauguration of the new head office of the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare last year.

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