2 October 2017

Namibia: Verdict Over Killing of Children Postponed

THE delivery of the verdict in the High Court trial of a former security guard accused of having murdered his two children by cutting their throats has been shifted to November.

The judgement in the trial of ex-security officer Jonas Penovanhu Shinana (34) was scheduled to be handed down in the Windhoek High Court on Friday, but was postponed to 24 November after judge Nate Ndauendapo indicated his verdict was not yet ready.

Shinana is accused of having murdered his six-year-old son, Matheus Shinana, and three-year-old daughter, Emilia Naatye Shinana, in Wanaheda in Windhoek during the night of 23 to 24 December 2009.

The two children died in the house where Shinana lived after their throats had been slit.

When they were discovered dead on a bloody crime scene on the morning of 24 December 2009, Shinana was found lying next to them on a mattress with a piece of rope around his neck, after he had apparently made a failed attempt to hang himself, judge Ndauendapo has been told during Shinana's long-running trial.

Shinana denied guilt on two counts of murder, read with the provisions of the Combating of Domestic Violence Act, when his trial began in February 2014.

Judge Ndauendapo ruled in March this year that the prosecution could use a self-incriminating statement made by Shinana to a police officer following his arrest as evidence in the trial.

In the statement, which Shinana subsequently denied he made, he allegedly related that he had gone to fetch the children on 23 December 2009 after their mother had left them with her sister in Windhoek three days earlier.

The police officer also recorded that Shinana said he woke up around 03h00 on the morning of 24 December 2009. He allegedly said he did not know what happened to him, but that he was worried about his children suffering and then "took the knife and committed such offence and I wanted to kill myself but I failed".

In his own testimony, heard in May, Shinana said he woke up during the night with somebody holding him by the neck and strangling him. He said he did not know what happened next, but realised he was in a hospital when he woke up again, with police officers asking him why he had killed his children.

Defence lawyer Bradley Basson asked judge Ndauendapo in his closing arguments at the start of August to revisit his ruling on the admissibility of the statement allegedly made by Shinana. He argued that Shinana's constitutional rights had not been properly explained to him before he made the alleged statement. Shinana's version of events should be accepted as a reasonable possibility, with the result that he should be found not guilty, Basson also argued.

State advocate Palmer Kumalo argued that Shinana's version of having been attacked by an unknown intruder who murdered his children and left him alive was an illogical fabrication. He asked the judge to convict Shinana on both charges.

Shinana has been in custody for close to eight years by now - since his arrest in December 2009.

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