Three people accused of having robbed and murdered an elderly resident of Windhoek in his flat in the city more than eight years ago were finally found guilty in the Windhoek High Court yesterday.
After a prolonged trial which started with denials of guilt in November 2012, Nelsiene Kauaria (34), Erwin Katjingisiua (34), and his brother George Katjingisiua (36) are now convicted of murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances, and attempted robbery.
In the judgement that he delivered yesterday, judge Alfred Siboleka acquitted them on a charge of conspiracy to commit robbery with aggravating circumstances, though, after reasoning that a conviction on that charge and on the count of attempted robbery would be a duplication of charges.
Kauaria and her two co-accused were charged with having robbed and murdered the 78-year-old Gideon Johannes ('Koos') Stoop in the flat where he lived in Cimbebasia in Windhoek during the night of 28 to 29 August 2009.
Kauaria was involved in a relationship with Stoop at the time of his death, the court heard during the trial.
Judge Siboleka found in his judgement that Erwin Katjingisiua killed Stoop, with George Katjingisiua assisting him as he committed the crime. The two men were both convicted of murder committed with a direct intention to kill.
Kauaria, who was present at the scene when Stoop was killed, did not physically take part in the murder, but was the principal organiser and facilitator of a plan to rob Stoop, judge Siboleka also found. She was present in Stoop's flat when Erwin Katjingisiua attacked him, threatening and stabbing him with a knife in an attempt to force him to reveal the whereabouts of a rumoured bag of money in the apartment, and she associated herself with the attack, the judge recounted.
Erwin Katjingisiua denied all of the allegations against him until he made a surprise turnaround while testifying in his own defence near the end of August last year.
He abandoned his previous denials and, telling judge Siboleka that he had had a religious conversion while in jail, testified that he, Kauaria and George Katjingisiua had indeed been responsible for the attack that claimed Stoop's life.
Katjingisiua testified that Kauaria suggested the robbery to him three days before her plan was put into operation. He said he and his brother followed Stoop's car, after he had picked up Kauaria in Katutura, to Cimbebasia in a taxi.
After Kauaria and Stoop had entered his flat, Erwin Katjingisiua said, he knocked at the flat's door, and held Stoop at knifepoint when he came to open the door. He said he threatened Stoop with the knife, and stabbed him with it and also with a screwdriver in an attempt to force him to hand over the money that Kauaria had said he was keeping in the flat, but Stoop could come up with only N$50.
Kauaria was ransacking the flat, looking for valuables, while he was torturing Stoop, Katjingisiua testified. He said she also went to fetch George Katjingisiua, who was still outside. Once George Katjingisiua was in the flat, he helped tie Stoop's hands with a torn piece of T-shirt, Erwin Katjingisiua said.
He further testified that he stuffed another torn piece of T-shirt into Stoop's mouth to suppress his screaming. Stoop died as a result of suffocation.
When he saw that Stoop had died, Erwin Katjingisiua said, he and George Katjingisiua carried Stoop's body into the flat's bathrooom, where they washed his blood off their hands before locking him up in the bathroom.
They left the flat with a meagre loot consisting of a television, hair clippers, and a car radio.
Within three days, all three of the accused were under arrest. They have been held in custody for more than eight years since then.
Kauaria and her co-accused are scheduled to return to court on 27 February for a pre-sentence hearing.
Deputy prosecutor general Antonia Verhoef is representing the state. Defence lawyer Louis Karsten is representing Kauaria, while George and Erwin Katjingisiua are represented by Braam Cupido and Monty Karuaihe, respectively.