11 July 2013

Namibia: 90 Years for Rapist

A DISAPPOINTED and saddened mother wept when she saw her son being sentenced to an effective 90 years' imprisonment on rape charges in the Windhoek High Court yesterday.

Overwhelmed by sadness, the mother of Michael Gariseb (photo) broke down in tears after hearing that her son has been sentenced to three jail terms of 45 years each on three counts of rape.

Two of the 45-year sentences were ordered to be served concurrently, with the effect that Gariseb (25) has been sent to prison for 90 years. Gariseb is only the second person to have been sentenced to such a severe prison term on rape charges in Namibia.

The fact that Gariseb is already serving a jail term on a rape charge tilted the scales of justice heavily against him after Judge Naomi Shivute found him guilty on three counts of rape on 21 May.

After the delivery of her verdict Judge Shivute was informed that Gariseb was sentenced to an effective six years' imprisonment on a rape charge in June 2011. That crime, in which a ten-year-old girl was raped, was committed in May 2008, and that charge was pending against Gariseb when he committed the crimes which led to his trial in the High Court.

Noting this fact, Judge Shivute remarked during the sentencing that it appeared to her that Gariseb has a propensity to target minor children and rape them "to satisfy his devious sexual desires".

In his trial in the High Court Gariseb was accused of having raped a 14-year-old girl at Gobabis three times on 31 July 2010.

The girl was attacked in the morning when she went into the bushes near her home to relieve herself. A man grabbed her from behind, strangled her, and after threatening that he would kill her, he raped her, the girl testified.

He then pulled her to another spot in the bushes where he again raped her, and repeated this after pulling her to a third place in the bushes, she told the court. The girl sustained injuries to her private parts. The attacker also assaulted her by punching her in the face.

Gariseb denied guilt on the three charges at the start of his trial.

After being convicted, though, he told the court he was sorry over what he did and that he wanted to apologise to the family of the girl he had raped. He also claimed he was very drunk when he committed the offences, Judge Shivute recounted.

The crimes which Gariseb committed are serious and prevalent, the judge said.

She continued: "Although the accused apologised, he is a clear and present danger to society. As such there is a greater need to isolate him from the public so as to protect its vulnerable members, namely women and children."

She also recounted that the mother of the girl who was raped told the court that her child has changed since the incident, becoming more withdrawn, afraid to be on her own, and that her performance at school has deteriorated.

As a repeat offender, Gariseb faced a prescribed sentence of not less than 45 years' imprisonment on each of the rape charges, in terms of the Combating of Rape Act.

Judge Shivute found that no substantial and compelling circumstances which would justify a lighter sentence than the prescribed minimum terms had been presented to her. However, because of the severity of the cumulative effect of the mandatory sentences she decided to have two of the sentences run concurrently, she said.

Gariseb is the second repeat rapist to be sentenced to a 90-year prison term in the High Court in Windhoek this year.

A Lüderitz resident, Ralph Vukile Mtshibe (37), who also had a previous rape conviction on his criminal record, was sentenced to an effective 90 years' imprisonment on two rape charges on 5 March.

Gariseb was represented by defence lawyer Monty Karuaihe. State advocate Karin Esterhuizen prosecuted.

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