Namibia: Woman Gets 28 Years for Sex Trafficking

A woman who lured a teenage girl from northern Namibia in 2012 and provided her to men in the Okahandja district to be used for sex has received an effective prison term of 28 years at the end of her trial.

Judge Naomi Shivute sentenced Tuufilwa Ndawina Jonas, a 34-year-old mother of five children, on three charges of rape and three counts of trafficking in persons in the Windhoek High Court yesterday.

The judge sentenced Jonas, who has been in custody since November 2015, to six years' imprisonment on each of the three rape charges, and to five-year jail terms on each of the counts of trafficking in persons.

One of the five-year prison terms was ordered to be served concurrently with one of the sentences on a rape charge, leaving Jonas with an effective sentence of 28 years in prison.

All of the charges on which Jonas was found guilty at the end of July this year were based on allegations that she had been involved in a scam that landed a schoolgirl from northern Namibia on Okahandja district farms where she was forced into becoming a sexual partner to two men.

Jonas denied guilt on all of the charges at the start of her trial in June last year.

The complainant told the court she was 18 years old when Jonas, promising her a job, persuaded her to travel to Okahandja in May 2012. However, after her arrival at the town, the complainant ended up on a farm where Jonas forced her into becoming the sexual partner of a man living on the farm.

The complainant said she stayed with the man for about two and a half months before she left the farm.

After that, another man, described by Jonas as a friend of hers, fetched the complainant from Jonas' home, and took her to the farm where he was living. He also had sexual intercourse with her several times, the complainant said.

Jonas was convicted of trafficking in persons, which is an offence in terms of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act. Judge Shivute also found that, although Jonas herself did not have sexual intercourse with the complainant, she coerced her to have intercourse with the two men with whom she was forced to stay after she had been persuaded to travel from northern Namibia to Okahandja. In terms of the Combating of Rape Act, that made Jonas guilty of rape, too, the judge concluded.

Although Jonas was a first-time offender, "she committed heinous offences which are unimaginable to be committed by a mother", judge Shivute commented during the sentencing.

She recounted that when Jonas lured the complainant from northern Namibia to Okahandja, which was an unknown area for the girl, she knew she would give the girl to men for sexual exploitation. The complainant trusted Jonas, who took advantage of her vulnerability, and it was clear that she suffered trauma because of Jonas' actions, judge Shivute noted.

She remarked that although Jonas showed remorse over the crimes when she testified in mitigation of sentence after she had been found guilty, she committed premeditated offences. The fact that Jonas is a mother herself and yet had been actively involved in human trafficking and rape weighed heavily against her, the judge commented further.

Having noted that Jonas is the mother of five children, aged between three and 12, judge Shivute also said: "Although the accused has minor children, it is questionable whether she is a fit and proper person to be entrusted with their custody."

State advocate Felistas Shikerete-Vendura represented the prosecution during Jonas' trial. Jonas was represented by Milton Engelbrecht, on instructions from the Directorate of Legal Aid.

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