26 February 2013

Namibia: No-Show of DNA Expert Delays Titus Murder Trial

Windhoek — The non-appearance of a DNA expert witness for the State has resulted in the postponement of the murder and rape trial of Paulus Titus (27).

State Prosecutor, Advocate Karin Esterhuizen yesterday told Judge Nate Ndauendapo the DNA report is finally available, but the expert witness from Canada apparently missed his flight. While she could provide exact reasons for the non-availability of Stien Hatzen, she also indicated that she was in possession of his direct number and would try to get hold of him to give the court an explanation.

Defence counsel Kaijata Kangueehi, who is representing the accused on instructions from the Directorate of Legal Aid did not raise any objections to a further postponement. Titus is accused of murdering and raping his elderly employer, Erica Tjiho (75) in her house in the Ovitoto area east of Okahandja on September 01, 2009, and robbing her. Titus has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The accused only admitted in a statement made to a magistrate after his arrest on September 03, 2009 that he "slapped the deceased with an open hand".

In the statement he made to Magistrate Tuvoye Nuule the next day following his arrest, he said he was employed as a livestock herder at Ovitoto from May 2009, and was supposed to earn N$350 a month.

He however told the magistrate that he only received N$200 from Tjiho's son, Ebson Uaraa Tjiho, at the end of his first month of work. He further told the magistrate that since he felt that he was not being paid as agreed, he decided to leave the job and went to Okahandja, but according to the statement Ebson Tjiho, accompanied by a police officer, tracked him down at the town.

Titus said in his statement that he was handcuffed and taken to the police station, where he was ordered to get into Tjiho's vehicle to be returned to Ovitoto. He claimed that again in August 2009 he was paid only N$100 and that since he also worked for Erica Tjiho, which was denied by Ebson Tjiho when he testified in the trial in November 2011, he also asked her for his pay on September 01, 2009.

When she told him she did not have any money, he got angry and started to beat her, Titus said. In the statement which was admitted into evidence by Judge Ndauendapo, Titus claims that he only slapped the deceased a few times with an open hand, but can't remember the exact number of times.

He further claims that he left the deceased at her house and went away. He said that he and the deceased were the only ones at her house when this happened. After he assaulted her he decided not to work for them anymore, according to him.

According to Titus he left Tjiho alive when he left her house. After he had assaulted her he "only saw that her nose was bleeding," he claimed. Titus remains in custody.

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