Namibia: Man Acquitted of Beating Girlfriend to Death

1 October 2019

Windhoek — A man who admitted he assaulted his now dead girlfriend, but denied that the assaults led to her death, was acquitted on a charge of murder read with the provisions of the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act by Windhoek High Court Judge Christie Liebenberg yesterday.

Sylvester Johannes Thirion was however convicted on a charge of common assault since he admitted that he had slapped her twice in the face during the evening before her demise.

Judge Liebenberg said the state did not adduce evidence that could link Thirion to the murder as their star witness contradicted himself on material aspects and was not a credible witness at all.

He further said that the evidence of the police officers who attended the crime scene was of no help to the state and was poor to say the least.

Thirion was charged with the murder of 25-year-old Elizabeth Kooitjie during the period December 23 to 24, 2016.

According to the indictment, during the evening of December 23, 2016 and at a plot in Mariental, the deceased and the accused attended a party together and an argument erupted between them, and during the late night hours of December 23, 2016 and the early morning hours of December 24, he assaulted her with fists and kicked her in the head several times, causing her to die due to severe head injury.

While, he admitted that he hit the deceased and kicked her in the head, he denied causing her death.

According to state witnesses, the deceased and the accused had a stormy relationship characterised by physical altercations.

Thirion did not enter a plea explanation but said through his state-funded lawyer, Milton Engelbrecht, that he disputes the allegation and put the state to prove each and every allegation against him.

While Johanna Kooitjie, the mother of the deceased, testified that when the deceased and accused fought they did not care about anyone, including her and the two children of the deceased and the accused, and would step over anyone in their way, the judge said this did not in any way bring anything to the trial.

According to the judge, the evidence showed that after the accused slapped the deceased and she fell down, she got up on her own and followed the accused who had left the yard where the altercation took place.

He further said that there is evidence adduced by the state on what happened between the time the deceased followed the accused and the time he carried her back to the house and laid her down on a bed, where she on her own steam breastfed her baby.

According to Judge Liebenberg, there was ample evidence that the deceased consumed alcohol which could have been a contributor to her maybe falling down and hitting her head on something, causing the bleeding in the brain that killed her.

He further said that he is not persuaded by the state's argument that Thirion acted with intent and could have foreseen that the deceased would die as a result of the assault, and that the accused is thus entitled to the benefit of doubt and is acquitted.

He however said that Thirion did admit to assault and should be convicted as such. He was sentenced to one year, wholly suspended for five years on condition he is not convicted of the same offence during that period.

The judge remanded the matter to today for sentencing on the assault conviction and Thirion is free on a warning.

The state was represented by Basson Lilungwe.

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