Namibia: State Wants 25 Years for Woman Guilty of Human Trafficking

Judge's gavel.
8 November 2019

Windhoek — State prosecutor Felisitas Sikerete-Vendura this week asked High Court Judge Naomi Shivute to sentence a woman convicted of luring two underage girls from a village in northern Namibia under false promises of employment and then selling them into sexual slavery, to an effective 25 years in jail.

Judge Shivute convicted Tuufilwa Jonas, 34, on three counts of rape and three counts of trafficking in persons after she trafficked a young girl from Okahenge village in the Omusati Region for sexual exploitation during 2012.

Jonas pleaded not guilty to all charges at the start of her trial, but admitted to the charges after she was convicted and asked the court's forgiveness.

Shikerete-Vendura told the court that despite the ambulation of Milton Engelbrecht, the state-funded lawyer of Jonas, substantial and compelling circumstances exist to allow the court to deviate from the prescribed sentences for the offences she is convicted of, and the court must look at the evidence in totality and not in isolation.

She further said that it was a young girl, 18 years old that was lured from her home to an unknown place and given to three different men to be sexually abused.

Her entire life was destroyed by this act of the convict, Sikerete-Vendura said.

She further said that trafficking of persons can be compared to modern-day slavery and is a heinous offence, which the courts should nip in the bud by sending out a strong message that it will not be allowed.

Engelbrecht told the court that he was mindful of the fact that his client was convicted of serious crimes, in particular the rape offences.

But, he said, the court should look at the surrounding circumstances to determine the blameworthiness of the convict.

According to him, the convict was not the one who physically raped the complainant, but was the facilitator and her punishment should therefore fit the crime and be fair to society.

He went on to say that although society expects the criminal to be punished, the punishment should not destroy a convict.

According to him, the convict accepted her liability and that she was wrong for what she had done to the complainant.

He further said that Jonas has shown genuine remorse by testifying under oath and asking for forgiveness from the family of her victim, the victim herself, the community of her village and the court.

He asked the court to sentence Jonas to eight years on each rape count to run concurrently and four years each on the trafficking counts, also to run concurrently which will leave her with an effective sentence of 12 years.

Judge Shivute reserved her judegment on sentence until 3 December.

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