Namibia: Panga Killer Sentenced to 30 Years in Prison

AN OSHANA region resident who killed his girlfriend by nearly beheading her with a panga three years ago is now facing three decades behind bars.

The crime of which Ndamwena Evaristu Josef (36) was convicted was "an extreme murder, shocking and revolting", judge Herman January commented when he sentenced Josef in the Oshakati High Court on Wednesday last week. The woman that he killed, Hilma Ndeyapo Nehale (28), "was helpless and unarmed when she was executed", the judge reminded Josef.

He added that it was aggravating that the crime was committed in a domestic setting, since Josef and Nehale had been involved in a relationship from which two children were born. One of the children - a two-year-old boy - was present when his mother was murdered.

Judge January sentenced Josef, who has been in custody over the past three years, to 30 years' imprisonment.

Josef was found guilty of murder, committed with a direct intention to kill, in September last year. He denied guilt during his trial.

He was charged with having murdered Nehale at King Kauluma village near Oshivelo in the Oshana region on 4 April 2016. Nehale was killed when she was nearly decapitated through a deep cut wound to her neck. Josef claimed during his trial that Nehale attacked him in a jealous rage while the two of them were on their way home from a cuca shop where they had been drinking. He said she swore at him, and accused him of having a relationship with another woman - an accusation that was in fact true, he admitted - and then approached him with a panga that she was lifting up in the air.

According to Josef, he grabbed Nehale on the wrist of the arm with which she was holding the panga, and a struggle for possession of the weapon then followed. He said at some point he saw blood spattering onto him while the panga swung to the right, and he saw Nehale falling to the ground.

In the judgement that he delivered when he found Josef guilty, judge January noted that a medical doctor who examined Nehale's body described the fatal injury to her neck as a chop wound, which in his opinion had been caused by a very sharp object that had been used with great force. The judge reasoned that if the struggle for possession of the panga occurred as Josef claimed it did, one would have expected a cut instead of a chop wound to Nehale's neck.

Finding that Josef was in control of the panga at the critical moment when Nehale was fatally injured, the judge further found that Josef deliberately aimed the panga at a vulnerable part of her body, and that he struck her with an intention to kill her.

One of the prosecution's witnesses testified during the trial that Josef arrived at her home on the evening in question with his and Nehale's son, whom he handed to her after telling her that he had killed Nehale, and that he was going to end his own life as well. The witness alerted her husband, who followed Josef, and found Nehale's body where she lay in a pool of blood.

Josef was arrested on the same evening.

He told the court before his sentencing that he was born in Angola, did not receive a school education, and that he and Nehale had been involved in a relationship for about eight years before her death. Josef also said he felt bad about the incident, and apologised to Nehale's family. Legal aid lawyer Marius Adams represented Josef during the trial. The state was represented by prosecutors Leonard Tjiveze and Taodago Gaweseb.

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