19 February 2018

Namibia: Rust to Serve 3-Year Sentence for Killing Poacher

Photo: The Namibian
Okahandja area farmer Kai Rust.

Windhoek — Okahandja farmer Kai Rust who was convicted of culpable homicide in the death of a poacher will serve three years in prison.

The court sentenced Rust to five years' imprisonment of which part was suspended on condition that he is not convicted of culpable homicide involving a firearm during a period of five years.

Handing down the sentence in the Windhoek Regional Court on Friday, Magistrate Alexis Diergardt indicated that there was no imminent danger at the time Rust fired the shot and a life was lost.

"We cannot argue that just because there was poaching on the farm, the deceased's life is less important than any other human being's," explained Diergardt, adding that the seriousness of the offence and the degree of negligence outweighed Rust's personal circumstances.

Rust stood trial on a count of murder and three counts of attempted murder for the death of Andreas Ukandanga, 41, and attempting to kill three more people during a shooting on his father's farm on January 27, 2016. The forensic report indicates that the bullet that hit Ukandanga was a ricocheting shot, which was not directly intended for him.

During mitigation, Rust's defence counsel Jan Wessels argued that Rust was only protecting his farm when he fired the shots that were aimed at the stray dog on his farm.

Wessels said that Rust acted on the spur of the moment and made a decision to fire the shots, which in the court's view was the wrong decision.

"My client was minding his business. The poachers committed an offence when they entered my client's farm and they knew that what they were doing was illegal," noted Wessels. He said that a fine or suspended sentence would be appropriate in Rust's case. Rust was in custody for 18 months before he was granted bail in the amount of N$40,000.

The state wanted Rust sentenced to eight years' imprisonment on the grounds that a life was lost.

According to the prosecutor Fillemon Nyau, life should be protected by all means. In the prosecution's view Rust should have let the police deal with the poachers.

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