15 February 2013

Namibia: Villagers Want Stiff Sentence for Murder Accused

Oshakati — Residents of various villages in the Ogongo area took to the streets on Monday to protest the alleged murder of another villager by a local businessman.

The 32-year-old Bernhard Kalimbo died in Oshakati Intermediate Hospital, a day after he was discovered in front of a homestead at Okeeke village badly bruised.

In the petition that they handed over to State Prosecutor Pinehas Mpofu the community claims that on the evening of February 06, Kalimbo (32) was hit with a car, harassed, beaten and kicked by well-known Okeeke businessman Maurus Valombola.

Valombola appeared in the Outapi Magistrate's Court yesterday, to launch a formal bail application. Yesterday's march is the second in which the villagers appealed to the court not to grant bail to Valombola. They also want his trial to be accelerated and demand a stiff sentence for the murder accused. The first march took place on Monday, during Valombola's first appearance in court.

"Reports of people being chased after during the night and harassed are rife in the region. We are aggrieved and disturbed by these events. Equally, we are concerned about suspects who commit barbaric crimes such as murder, but are granted bail or given lenient sentences; and after serving less than five years behind bars are freed and continue killing innocent people," read the petition.

The villagers claim Kalimbo was in the company of other young men at Valombola's bar, when Valombola started using vulgar language and making scoffing remarks saying that he looked like a thief. Valombola allegedly tried to provoke Kalimbo further by assaulting him with a pool table cue stick, and even fired shots in the air to intimidate him.

Kalimbo allegedly refused to retaliate by walking out of the bar. After walking a distance of about 2km from Vambola's bar, Kalimbo who was walking on the gravel road next to the B1, allegedly spotted a vehicle approaching him from behind. He moved further away from the road to allow the vehicle to pass, it is believed. However, the vehicle aimed straight for him and pursued him until it hit him, while he was attempting to get away.

Kalimbo's assailant whom he allegedly identified as Valombola got out of the vehicle and started to kick him, while he was on the ground. Valombola then left to search for a stick to continue the assault on his victim. However, Kalimbo managed to escape and hid behind some bushes, according to eyewitnesses.

When Valombola returned with the stick and realised that Kalimbo was no longer at the spot where he left him, he allegedly pulled out his gun and started shooting, before driving away from the scene. Kalimbo allegedly spent the night in the bush, too weak to walk and only managed to crawl to a nearby homestead in the morning.

He was taken to the Oshikuku hospital by the Ogongo police. However, due to the severity of the injuries, he was transferred to the Oshakati Hospital for further medical treatment. He succumbed to the injuries before he could be operated on. Kalimbo was allegedly able to narrate his ordeal to the police and his relatives before he died.

"The death of Bernhard Kalimbo has repercussions beyond his family and community. In view of the circumstances that led to his death, the family and community see this as a cold-blooded murder. This is a serious offence and we condemn it in the strongest terms! In accordance with the supreme laws of the Republic of Namibia, the right to live shall be respected and protected," read the community's petition.

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