Namibia: 'Heckmair Murdered Over Lover'

23 October 2020

A previous romantic relationship involving one of the Americans accused of murder has been cited as a possible cause of the fatal shooting of Namibian Andre Heckmair in Windhoek during 2011. The former girlfriend of Marcus Thomas, one of the Americans accused of the assassin-like murder of Andre Heckmair, was likely the reason he was targetted to be killed.

This came to light during the testimony of Birgit Heckmair, the mother of the victim in the murder trial.

The ex-girlfriend, who is a Swiss national, was allegedly involved with Thomas before she started dating Heckmair. A laptop found at the guesthouse room Thomas and his co-accused Kevan Townsend shared had a photo of Thomas and Christene Bruhwiler as its screensaver.

Birgit also testified that her son and Christene were in a relationship since 2007 when they met while studying at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland. She further said that Christene visited Namibia in June 2008, again in September 2009 and then in December 2010.

It was during their family vacation in December 2010 that she received an SMS from a certain Henri asking for her son's cellphone number, as two American friends wanted to make contact with him, the witness testified.

She added that her son took her phone and responded to the text message.

She further told the court that on the fateful day of her son's death, he was in a hurry after dropping them off in her daughter's car at the Cattle Baron Steakhouse at Mareua Mall because he had a lunch appointment with the two Americans that he had various phone contact with. She said that was the last time she saw him alive.

According to Birgit, while she and her daughter were in her office at the restaurant her daughter received a call from the police that her car was involved in an accident and that they needed to come to the scene. They immediately got into their car and drove to the scene.

She continued that when they arrived at the scene her son's body was already placed in the ambulance, but she insisted to see him and immediately recognised his sneakers when they removed the cloth covering him.

She further informed the court that his cellphone and wallet containing a 100 Swiss franc note was missing.

Thomas and Townsend are accused of killing Heckmair with a single gunshot in the side of his head on 7 January 2011 at Gusinde Street in Windhoek and robbing him of his cellphone and wallet containing 100 Swiss franc. It is further alleged that they unlawfully imported two 9mm pistol barrels without a permit or alternatively possessed the 9mm barrels without a licence, and the alleged possession of a 7.65mm pistol without a licence and unlawful possession of ammunition.

They are further charged with intent to defeat or obstruct the course of justice for allegedly removing a notebook from police custody after the police seized it as an exhibit and/or burned, destroyed or otherwise disposed of some of the pages in the book. They face one count of murder, one count of robbery with aggravating circumstances, three counts of contravening the Ammunitions Act and one count of defeating or obstructing or attempting to defeat or obstruct the course of justice.

Thomas is represented by Braam Cupido on instructions of legal aid and Townsend by Mbanga Siyomunji on private instruction. The State is represented by deputy prosecutor general Antonia Verhoef and the presiding judge is Christie Liebenberg. The matter continues.

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