14 July 2017

Namibia: State Wants 40 Years for Arson Killer

A Khomas region resident who murdered the mother of three of his children in an arson attack almost five years ago should be sent to prison for 40 years, a prosecutor suggested in the Windhoek High Court yesterday.

State advocate Ethel Ndlovu proposed the sentences to be imposed on 41-year-old Plesie Gowaseb during her final oral arguments before judge Christie Liebenberg.

Gowaseb is due to be sentenced on Wednesday next week - three weeks after he admitted to judge Liebenberg that he was guilty on charges of murder and arson.

Gowaseb admitted that he killed his domestic partner, Petrina /Goagoses (32), through an arson attack at a Dordabis farm during the night of 13 to 14 October 2012.

He told the court that he went to the room where /Goagoses was staying, locked the door of the room from the outside with a padlock, entered through a window, and poured paraffin in the room, before setting it on fire with /Goagoses inside.

/Goagoses suffered extensive and horrific burns on 70% of her body.

She lived another week before dying in Katutura Intermediate Hospital in Windhoek on 21 October 2012. Testifying in mitigation of sentence yesterday, Gowaseb said he picked up a padlock and took it with him when he walked about two kilometres from his home to the room of /Goagoses on the night of the incident. He said he took the padlock with him because he was planning to lock her room, and claimed it was only after he had entered the room that he decided to hurt /Goagoses.

Gowaseb said he spent about three years in jail after being arrested in October 2012.

During his testimony, he turned to /Goagoses' parents in the court's public gallery and expressed regret over the killing of their daughter, and asked for their forgiveness.

Also testifying yesterday, /Goagoses' mother, Elsie /Goagoses, told the court the relationship between her daughter and Gowaseb was a tempestuous affair, marred by mutual jealousy, physical fights, and the opening and withdrawal of criminal cases against each other.

"It was not a healthy relationship," she said.

The couple had three children, one of whom has died, she said. Their two sons, who she raised as a result of their chaotic home situation, were now teenagers and were still in her care, she said.

In his closing address to the judge, defence lawyer Milton Engelbrecht argued that Gowaseb's apology in court was genuine. While acknowledging the crimes committed by Gowaseb were serious, Engelbrecht asked the judge to show some mercy during sentencing.

The sentence imposed on Gowaseb on the arson charge should run concurrently with the sentence on the murder count, Engelbrecht suggested.

Ndlovu proposed that, except for being sentenced to 40 years' imprisonment for murder, Gowaseb should also be given a jail term of six to 10 years for arson.

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