Windhoek — A man who set his common law wife on fire causing an unimaginably painful death a few days later last week cried before Judge Christi Liebenberg when he pleaded for forgiveness from the mother and father of his victim in the Windhoek High Court.
"Grandma and Grandpa, can you forgive me for what I have done? Meisie is no longer here, I regret what I have done, please forgive me," Plesie Gowaseb pleaded through a Khoekhoegowab interpreter before he burst into tears, causing the judge to call for a break in the court proceedings.
Gowaseb pleaded guilty on a count of murder, read with the provisions of the Combating of Domestic Violence Act, and one count of arson late last month.
He admitted he intentionally set alight the mother of his three children, Petrina Goagoses, during the period October 13-14, 2012, thus causing her to die from her injuries on October 21, 2012.
He also admitted to wrongfully, unlawfully and maliciously setting on fire the house the deceased lived in.
During his evidence in mitigation last week he told the court that he is currently 41 years old and was 37 when he committed the offences and that he had six children, one of which is deceased. He told Judge Liebenberg that he pleaded guilty, because he was the one who set fire to the room that cost the life of the deceased. "I take full responsibility," he said.
Earlier, the mother of the deceased, Ellie Goagoses, told the court the accused and deceased had a stormy relationship, characterised by physical fights and that was the reason she took their children to live with her.
At one stage, she said, the accused told the deceased during one of their fights that he would kill her like the dog she is.
While the deceased did support her mother financially and materially to take care of the two boys, aged 16 and 13, the accused never contributed, she said.
Gowaseb denied this and said he and the deceased used to pool money and send it to a smartcard account of the deceased's sister.
Ellie Goagoses told the judge that she could not decide on a punishment for the accused and that the court must "just do its work".
In his submission on the sentence Gowaseb is to receive, Milton Engelbrecht of Engelbrecht Attorneys said he would leave the sentence to be imposed in the capable hands of the court. He, however, reminded the court that Gowaseb had pleaded guilty at first opportunity, which is normally a strong indication of remorse.
Engelbrecht noted that while the accused had a previous conviction for assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, he was sentenced for that offence and cannot be punished for the same crime twice.
State Advocate Ethel Ndlovu was not so gracious as to leave the sentencing in the hands of the court.
She told Judge Liebenberg that this was a crime of such brutality that it sent tremors through the small community of Dordabis and thus asked the court to sentence Gowaseb to at least 40 years in prison.
Judge Liebenberg said he would be ready with his sentence on Wednesday morning at 09h00.