9 August 2018

Namibia: Inspector Claims Fatal Shooting an Accident

A GOBABIS police inspector accused of having murdered his cheating girlfriend's other boyfriend testified in the Windhoek High Court yesterday that his alleged victim was shot accidentally during a tussle over a police service pistol.

Testifying in his defence in his trial before judge Dinnah Usiku, Lazarus Awaseb (50) claimed he and the late Odilo Rathebe Motonane (18) were wrestling over a police pistol that Motonane had in his hand when shots that struck both Motonane and Awaseb went off.

Awaseb said he had gone to the house of his then girlfriend, Mildred Haoses, at about 05h15 on 22 March 2016, and was surprised to see Motonane opening the door after he had knocked. He and Haoses had been involved in some arguments over the previous couple of days after her attitude towards him had soured, but according to Awaseb, they had not broken up as a couple yet at that stage.

He said when he told Motonane that he wanted to see his girlfriend, he was told he could not enter her house, and Motonane then pushed him on the throat. Awaseb said he fell, and in that process, the police pistol he was carrying at his waist fell to the ground.

Motonane picked up the gun, cocked it, and pointed it at him, Awaseb told the court. He said the two of them then started to wrestle over the gun. One shot went off, with a bullet being fired into the house, he said.

With the two of them still wrestling over the pistol, they went into the house, where he twisted Motonane's hand behind his back - and then more shots went off, Awaseb recounted.

He said one of the shots struck him on the left side of his chest. After another two shots had been fired, Motonane fell, Awaseb also told the judge.

He said he lost consciousness, and when he regained his senses, he found himself lying on a bed, with the pistol next to him.

Awaseb is standing trial on charges of murder, possession of a firearm and ammunition without a licence, attempted murder, alternatively negligent discharge or handling of a firearm, theft, and malicious damage to property.

The state is alleging that Awaseb murdered Motonane and tried to kill Haoses at Gobabis on 22 March 2016, after Haoses had ended her relationship with Awaseb a few days earlier. Having shot both Motonane, who died of the injuries he sustained, and Haoses, who was wounded, Awaseb allegedly tried to end his own life by shooting himself in the chest.

Awaseb denied guilt on all of the charges when his trial began two weeks ago.

Haoses (24) has testified she was simultaneously involved in a relationship with both Motonane and Awaseb, but ended her relationship with Awaseb shortly before the shooting.

According to Awaseb, he and Haoses had been a couple since March 2015. He said it was only during February 2016 that he found out she was also in a relationship with Motonane - but she then told him she had ended that affair and she wanted Motonane to stay away from her.

Awaseb also told the court he had been a member of the Namibian Police for the past 28 years. Having been held in police custody since the shooting, he has been suspended from his position in the police, he said.

The trial is continuing.

Defence lawyer Mese Tjituri represents Awaseb. State advocate Cliff Lutibezi is prosecuting.

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