Windhoek — A resident of Gobabis convicted of the murder of his live-in girlfriend did not show genuine remorse, Windhoek High Court Judge Dinah Usiku said yesterday when she sentenced him to an effective 23 years behind bars.
Erwin Tebele was convicted by Judge Usiku of murder with direct intent - read with the provisions of the Combating of Domestic Violence Act - for killing Nina Katjatenja with a single knife wound to the chest at their common home in Epako location of Gobabis on the evening of September 3, 2013.
He pleaded not guilty at the start of the trial and claimed that he stabbed Katjatenja in self-defence after he dispossessed her of a knife she had used to stab him twice on his arm.
According to the judge, while Tebele professed his remorse about the death of the deceased and said he felt bad about it, he persisted that what happened was an accident and as such he denies his guilt.
"It is trite that the first step in showing genuine remorse is to acknowledge the wrongfulness of one's conduct and then demonstrate remorsefulness.
"From the evidence adduced before court by the accused, it is clear that although the accused did confess remorse at this stage only, he did not show remorse immediately after the incident, even though there is evidence that he held the deceased in his arms until the police arrived at the scene" the judge said.
Tebele also had the opportunity to apologise to the deceased's father during the trial, but he failed to do so in order to take the court into his confidence that he was truly remorseful for what he had done, she stated.
"In my view, having closely observed the accused during the trial, I did not see a hint of remorse on his part," Judge Usiku stressed.
She said that murder is indeed a very serious crime that calls for severe punishment.
"The sanctity of life is a fundamental human right enshrined in the law by the Constitution and must be respected and protected by all. Our society is currently plagued by violent crimes. The spilling of blood and the taking of lives have become commonplace. Women and children are particularly vulnerable and the courts are called upon to protect these vulnerable groups who are mostly young women and children," the judge added.
What makes this offence even more serious, the judge went on, is that the deceased's children had to witness their mother being stabbed to death in their home, which has left them with a scar that will be difficult to erase from their memories. "They were helpless young children," Judge Usiku said, adding that it is against this background that she is entitled to attach more weight to the seriousness of the crime and the interest of society.
However, the judge said, she also had to consider that Tebele is a first time offender who spent a considerable period of time in custody awaiting finalisation of his case.
But, the judge said, Tebele is undoubtedly a person who has no respect for human life. "He went on to kill the deceased whilst the latter's children watched in disbelief. It is society's expectation that such persons be removed from society for a long time as they pose a serious danger to it," she concluded.
State Advocate Felisitas Shikerete-Vendura prosecuted and Mbanga Siyomunji represented Tebele on instructions of legal aid.