17 January 2019

Namibia: Guilty Cop 'Haunted' By Death of Love Rival

A police inspector convicted of having murdered a teenager who was his rival in a love triangle told a judge in the Windhoek High Court yesterday that he would be haunted to the end of his days by the incident that led to him being found guilty of murder.

It is difficult for him to know that someone lost his life as a result of his actions, and he will live with that knowledge until his last day, police officer Lazarus Awaseb said while testifying in a presentence hearing before judge Dinnah Usiku.

"It will haunt me," Awaseb said, referring to the incident in which the 18-year-old Odilo Motonane was shot dead at Gobabis on 22 March 2016, before telling the judge he was having sleepless nights over Motonane's death.

Awaseb asked Motonane's mother, who also testified yesterday, for her forgiveness, adding that he was also asking for the forgiveness of the Gobabis community and Namibia.

During his trial, Awaseb claimed that Motonane had been shot accidentally during a tussle over a police pistol, but judge Usiku rejected his version, and found it had been proven that Awaseb had a direct intention to kill Motonane when he fired at him at close range, and then shot him a second time from a greater distance.

He had to accept the findings of the court, and also had to accept what happened because it was he who had taken a firearm and bullets to the scene where the fatal shooting took place, Awaseb said yesterday.

Judge Usiku found Awaseb (50) guilty on charges of murder, attempted murder, possession of a firearm and ammunition without a licence, and malicious damage to property in September last year.

The charges were based on allegations that Awaseb murdered Motonane and tried to kill a then 22-year-old woman, Mildred Haoses, at Gobabis on 22 March 2016, after Haoses had ended a relationship between her and 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.

Haoses told the court during the trial that she was simultaneously involved in a relationship with both Motonane and Awaseb, but ended her relationship with Awaseb shortly before the shooting.

The shooting took place after Awaseb - armed with a police pistol - arrived at Haoses' house in the early morning hours, and found Motonane opening the door for him.

Also testifying yesterday, Motonane's mother, Annaline Motonane, told the judge she and her family have been affected deeply by the death of her son, whom she described as having been her right hand.

She expected her son, who was a Grade 12 pupil at a Gobabis school at the time of his death, to work and help support his family after completing school, she said.

With Awaseb having taken away her right hand, she wanted him to be sent to prison for long so that the pain she was experiencing would be soothed, she also said.

Awaseb is due to be sentenced on 21 February.

Defence lawyer Mese Tjituri, arguing that Awaseb had gone to great lengths to express his remorse, suggested that the judge should sentence him to 25 years' imprisonment on the murder charge, and a jail term of eight years for the attempted murder of Haoses.

State advocate Cliff Lutibezi argued that Awaseb still failed to acknowledge that he killed Motonane and tried to murder Haoses. Awaseb was not truly remorseful, Lutibezi argued, before suggesting that the judge should sentence him to a 30-year prison term for murder and a jail term of seven years for attempted murder, while giving him concurrent jail terms on the other three charges.

Awaseb has been kept in custody since his arrest in March 2016.

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