A GOBABIS area farmworker who committed two knife murders in less than a year was sentenced to two terms of life imprisonment at the end of his trial in the Windhoek High Court yesterday.
Petrus Paai (28) went on a stabbing spree in which he targeted innocent people for no apparent reason, acting judge Alfred Siboleka said during Paai's sentencing in the High Court at the Windhoek Correctional Facility.
He also commented that society required protection, and wanted to see people convicted of heinous crimes decisively punished.
Paai was found guilty on two charges of murder, a count of robbery with aggravating circumstances, and a charge of defeating or obstructing the course of justice on 9 October.
The first murder was committed at Gobabis on 1 August 2015, when Paai killed a 36-year-old man, Frederick Afrikaner, by stabbing him in the neck with a knife.
Paai was free on N$2 000 bail on the first murder charge and employed as a farmworker when he committed the second murder during a visit to Gobabis on 11 June 2016. In the second incident, he again used a knife to stab a man, Kapenaweholenge Heliki Hamutenya (27), in the neck, with fatal results.
Acting judge Siboleka noted that in both incidents, Paai stabbed his victims in the neck, which is one of the most sensitive and vulnerable parts of the human body, and that one thrust of the knife Paai used was enough to end both victims' lives.
The judge also commented that after Paai had stabbed Hamutenya and mortally injured him, he robbed Hamutenya by taking N$100 from one of his pockets.
Following the stabbing, Paai put the Okapi knife which he had used in the schoolbag of a child of his sister and asked someone to deliver the bag to the mother of his girlfriend, who hid the bag in a drum behind her house before later handing it to the police.
Paai was convicted of obstructing the course of justice for having tried to hide the knife used in the second stabbing.
Witnesses told the court during the trial that they saw Paai with a knife in each of his hands pursuing Afrikaner, who was retreating from him, and then stabbing Afrikaner once after the retreating man had bumped against a pole.
Paai claimed Afrikaner was threatening to stab him first - but according to the witnesses, Afrikaner was unarmed, and was trying to get away from Paai when he was stabbed.
In respect of the second stabbing, the acting judge also noted that two witnesses who saw that incident told the court that only Paai was armed with a knife, while Hamutenya was unarmed.
Hamutenya was stabbed after he wanted to buy some corrugated metal sheets from Paai, but decided not to go through with the transaction because Paai did not have change to give him for the N$100 note that he had, acting judge Siboleka recounted.
The judge sentenced Paai to life imprisonment on each of the two murder charges, six years' imprisonment for robbery, and a jail term of three months for obstructing the course of justice.
The practical effect of the sentences is that Paai would have to spend 25 years in prison before he could, depending on his behaviour behind bars, become eligible to be considered for release on parole.
Defence lawyer Titus Mbaeva represented Paai during the trial. State advocate Ethel Ndlovu prosecuted.