21 August 2017

Namibia: Panga Killer Jailed for 25 Years

Photo: Capital FM
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A MAN who blamed anger for killing someone with a panga has been sentenced to 25 years' imprisonment in the Oshakati High Court.

Ndilinawa Gabriel already spent about three years in custody before his trial reached its conclusion, judge Herman January noted when he sentenced him last Thursday.

He reminded Gabriel that while people were entitled to defend their rights, that defence had to be done within the limits of the law.

"You overstepped those boundaries because of anger. All people get angry at times, but they control their anger," the judge said.

Judge January convicted Gabriel of murder near the end of June.

Gabriel was arrested, charged and prosecuted over the killing of 27-year-old Petrus Nameto Shuunto at Oshikango's Okatwitwi location on 4 December 2011. Gabriel was 23 years old at the time of the killing.

Shuunto died after Gabriel struck him on the neck with a panga. The blow to Shuunto's neck cut through vital blood vessels, and also fractured two of his vertebrae.

During the trial, Gabriel said he was returning a panga to its owner after sharpening it when he encountered some of his friends drinking, and joined them.

He said Shuunto approached them, and confronted him about Shuunto's girlfriend. When he stood up, Shuunto grabbed his shirt and pushed him backwards. After he got out of Shuunto's grip, Shuunto kicked him in the chest.

Gabriel said he stumbled and almost fell, which was when he took out the panga and struck Shuunto. His intention had not been to strike Shuunto's neck, but to cut him on the shoulder, Gabriel said.

In his judgement, judge January said that while Gabriel said he struck Shuunto with the panga because Shuunto was storming at him, he also stated that he struck Shuunto out of anger, and nothing else.

Although Shuunto kicked Gabriel, the evidence heard by the court indicated that Shuunto was not attacking Gabriel after the kick, the judge said.

"There was therefore no imminent attack at the time [Shuunto] was cut with the panga," he found.

"In my view, the inflicting of the cut with the panga is more an act of retaliation after [Gabriel] was kicked, as he stated that he was angry," he said, adding that he found no justification for Gabriel's use of the panga.

With the sentencing, judge January said he took into account that Gabriel spent about three years in custody before he was released on bail, that he had a six-month-old child, and that his family made a contribution to cover the costs of Shuunto's funeral. Such a contribution, though, did not compensate for the loss of Shuunto's life, judge January said.

Inonge Mainga represented Gabriel during his trial. State advocate Taodago Gaweseb prosecuted.

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