A Windhoek resident accused of having murdered two women in the city in January 2016 and then setting fire to their corpses at a dumpsite denied guilt on four charges at the start of his trial yesterday.
"Not guilty," Lukas Nikodemus (48) told judge Christie Liebenberg four times when the charges on which he is being prosecuted were put to him at the start of his trial in the Windhoek High Court. With the formality of his pleas on the charges completed, defence lawyer Mbanga Siyomunji informed the judge Nikodemus would not give a plea explanation, and would require the state to prove all of the allegations it is making against him.
Nikodemus is being charged with two counts of murder, a count of defeating or obstructing the course of justice, and a charge of failing to lock away a firearm.
The prosecution is alleging that he 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 their company during the evening of 6 January 2016. The state is also alleging that he dumped the bodies of Naruses and De Wee at a refuse site near Pionierspark in Windhoek, and set their corpses 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.
In the fourth charge, the state is alleging that Nikodemus failed to lock away a pistol that he owned in a safe place as required in terms of the Arms and Ammunition Act when he was not carrying the firearm with him, and instead kept the gun under a mattress in his bedroom. Nikodemus testified during a bail hearing three weeks ago that he was involved in a romantic relationship with both Naruses and De Wee, and also with other women, at the same time. He denied having been responsible for their deaths.
The prosecution's first witness in the trial, Abisai Sebele, testified yesterday that he spent the day of 6 January 2016 at his friend Nikodemus' house in Katutura, where they passed the time drinking beer and recovering from a hangover from the previous evening's drinking, while also socialising with De Wee and Naruses at the house, and later at a bar in Katutura. Sebele said Nikodemus had a temper outburst twice that day - both times because he apparently felt Sebele had been giving inappropriate attention to Naruses. With the first outburst, which took place at the house, Nikodemus swore at him, warning him not to touch "my cherry", and moved his right hand to the pistol he was carrying in a holster on his hip, before Naruses intervened and defused the situation, Sebele testified.
He said he and Nikodemus were playing pool at a bar later during the day when he saw Naruses confronting Nikodemus about something. She grabbed hold of him by his clothes and was pulling and pushing him, before she pulled him out of the bar, Sebele said.
When Naruses at a later point asked him for N$10 for a gambling machine, Nikodemus again had an outburst, swearing at him and standing with his right hand on his holstered pistol while pointing his left index finger at him, Sebele testified.
An exchange of swear words between the two of them followed, before he decided to leave the bar and go home, Sebele said. He further told the court he was also arrested in connection with the deaths of Naruses and De Wee. When he first saw a handcuffed Nikodemus in a police office following their arrests, he said, Nikodemus told him: "You are innocent."
The trial is continuing.
State advocate Cliff Lutibezi is prosecuting.