Namibia: Hammer Killer Claims Dagga Clouded Mind

A MAN convicted of a hammer murder committed in southern Namibia near the end of 2017 claimed in court yesterday that he was not in his full senses when he carried out the killing, because he had been smoking cannabis beforehand.

Klein Thomas Pieterson (36) told judge Naomi Shivute in the Windhoek High Court he had been smoking cannabis, "and I would say I was not in my full senses", on the day his friend Josef Olifant was killed in the Tses area in the //Kharas region, where Pieterson was employed as a shepherd.

Pieterson also told the judge the dagga which he had been using affected his mind, and his thinking was not normal when the incident took place.

He said the incident is bothering him and there are times that it leaves him restless at night. He and Olifant had a good relationship, he said.

Shivute convicted Pieterson on counts of murder, attempting to defeat the course of justice and theft two weeks ago.

She found that Pieterson murdered Olifant (44) by using a sledgehammer or axe to inflict a blow to his head. According to an account which Pieterson gave to the police, he used a hammer to hit Olifant in the head.

The killing took place around 4 November 2017.

Pieterson also told the police that after Olifant had been killed, he put a piece of wire around Olifant's neck, fastened it to Olifant's car and then used the vehicle to drag his body to a place about one kilometre away from the crime scene, where he dumped the corpse.

A passer-by found Olifant's decomposing body on 12 November 2017. When the passer-by, accompanied by other people, returned to the place where he had seen the remains, the body was gone.

Following drag marks at the scene, they found the body a distance away under a pile of stones. Pieterson was also present when that second discovery was made.

After the discovery of the body, police officers found a small axe and sledgehammer with bloodstains on it at the place where Pieterson was staying.

Pieterson did not testify in his own defence during his trial, but claimed in a pretrial document that he acted in self-defence when Olifant was killed. In the absence of evidence from Pieterson himself, the judge concluded that the only inference which could safely be drawn from the evidence before the court was that Pieterson killed Olifant by using a sledgehammer or axe to inflict a deadly blow to his head.

After killing Olifant, Pieterson stole his car, cellphone, a jacket, bedding and a camping chair the court also found.

State advocate Tangeni Iitula argued yesterday that a lengthy term of imprisonment was unavoidable for Pieterson.

He remarked that the way Pieterson killed Olifant and then dragged his body behind Olifant's car in an attempt to get rid of it was horrific.

Iitula suggested that Pieterson should be sentenced to 35 years' imprisonment on the murder charge, a jail term of 12 months for attempting to defeat the course of justice, and to the prescribed minimum sentence of 10 years' imprisonment for theft, which includes the theft of a motor vehicle.

Defence lawyer Titus Mbaeva said he agreed that the sentence suggested on the theft charge is the minimum prison term prescribed by the Motor Vehicle Theft Act. Iitula's suggestion of 35 years' imprisonment on the murder charge is also the current trend in sentences imposed by the High Court for such a crime, Mbaeva indicated as well.

Pieterson has been kept in custody since his arrest nearly three and a half years ago.

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