Windhoek — Windhoek High Court Judge Christi Liebenberg yesterday convicted Lukas Nepela Nikodemus, 49, of two murders and one count of defeating or obstructing the course of justice, but acquitted him on a charge of failing to safeguard a firearm.
"I am satisfied that the state proved beyond any reasonable doubt that the accused was the one who is responsible for the deaths of the two deceased woman and that he tried to cover his tracks when he burned their bodies," Judge Liebenberg said during his verdict. Nikodemus was charged with the murder of 29-year-old Johanie Naruses and 23-year-old Clementia de Wee by shooting them with his pistol whereafter he burned their bodies at a dumpsite near Pioneers Park in Windhoek in an effort to conceal his cowardly act. He faced two counts of murder, one count of defeating or obstructing or attempting to defeat or obstruct the course of justice and one count of failing to lock away a firearm.
He pleaded not guilty to all counts at the start of his trial last September but did not provide a plea explanation and put the onus on the state to prove its allegations against him.
Also yesterday, he lost his fourth legal counsel when Vernon Lutibezi asked the judge to allow him to withdraw from the matter citing irreconcilable differences with his client.
According to Lutibezi, the relationship between him and Nikodemus became unbearable as Nikodemus flooded his office with phone calls giving untenable instructions.
He further told the court that Nikodemus has bluntly accused him of not carrying out his instructions and that Nicodemus further claimed he (Lutibezi) did not care for him.
He further said the instructions given by Nikodemus were frivolous and would just be a waste of the court's time.
Judge Liebenberg granted the defense lawyer's application and postponed the matter to today at 09h00 for Legal Aid to pronounce itself on whether they are willing to instruct a new lawyer for Nikodemus at this late stage.
Nikodemus told the court that he has already applied to Legal Aid for a new lawyer to assist him in his appeal against conviction, but when Judge Liebenberg pointed out to him that he can only apply for leave to appeal at the end of the trial, he changed his tune and said it was for mitigation.
The judge said Nikodemus made a very poor witness and that his testimony was so full of contradictions that it must be rejected.
He further said that 'Bennie', who the accused put on for the offences, was a figment of his imagination that only surfaced two years after his arrest.
According to the judge, while the state's case rest mostly on circumstantial evidence except for the admission Nikodemus made upon his arrest, the totality of the evidence points in only one direction and that is Nikodemus.
He said the behavior of Nikodemus was that of a guilty person who had something to hide.
The judge found that the defense put up by Nikodemus during the trial was not reasonably possibly true and rejected it in its entirety.