A WINDHOEK resident charged with the murder of two women whose burnt bodies were found at a dumpsite near the city in January 2016 wants to be released on bail - less than three weeks before the scheduled start of his trial.
The two women he is accused of having murdered were both his girlfriends, but he was not responsible for their deaths, Lukas Nikodemus (48) told acting judge Petrus Unengu in the Windhoek High Court when he testified in support of his application to be granted bail on Wednesday.
Nikodemus, who has been in custody since his arrest on 7 January 2016, said he had been trying since last year to apply for bail, but got a date for a bail hearing only last month.
He also said he would deny guilt at the start of his trial - he is charged with two counts of murder, a charge of defeating or obstructing the course of justice, and a count of failing to lock away a firearm - and would be able to pay bail in an amount of N$2 000. His trial is scheduled to start on 22 October.
The state is alleging that Nikodemus murdered two women, Johanie Naruses (29) and Clementia de Wee (23), by shooting them with a firearm after leaving a bar in Katutura in Windhoek in the company of the two women during the evening of 6 January 2016.
Nikodemus is also accused of having dumped the bodies of Naruses and De Wee at a refuse site near Pionierspark in Windhoek, and of having set the bodies on fire in an attempt to destroy evidence of the shooting of the two women and to hinder the police's investigation of their deaths.
The bodies were found at the dumpsite on 7 January 2016.
"I plead not guilty because I really don't know what happened to these deceased persons," Nikodemus said during his testimony on Wednesday.
He told the judge he was involved in a romantic relationship with both Naruses and De Wee simultaneously, and also with other women at the same time, and that Naruses and De Wee had no problem with that arrangement when they found out about each other.
Nikodemus also said the last time he had seen De Wee and Naruses was when they left his house with a friend of De Wee named Bennie, after De Wee had asked him for his car keys because she wanted to go buy something.
Bennie returned the car keys to him around midnight, telling him the car got stuck in Otjomuise and that the two women were at the car, Nikodemus said. However, when he took a taxi to the place where he was told his car was, he found only the vehicle, which he then parked nearby at the house of the mother of one of his children, he said.
Nikodemus said he was aware that the police found blood and bullet holes inside his car, and that the police claim to have found tyre marks and shoe prints matching his car's tyres and shoes found at his house at the scene where the two bodies were dumped and set alight.
According to Nikodemus he told one of his former defence lawyers, and possibly also a police officer, about the role Bennie played in the events on the last night De Wee and Naruses were seen alive. However, the detective in charge of the investigation of the case, warrant officer Joseph Ndokosho, said he was hearing of Nikodemus' claims about Bennie's involvement for the first time on Wednesday.
Defence lawyer Mbanga Siyomunji argued yesterday that Nikodemus' version of events should be accepted as the truth and that there was no evidence to show he would be a flight risk or would interfere with witnesses if released on bail.
State advocate Cliff Lutibezi argued that Nikodemus' version, which he said was not disclosed to any police officer for the past two years and nine months, was improbable. Nikodemus did not show that he should be granted bail, the prosecutor said.
Acting judge Unengu said he would deliver his bail ruling by 19 October.