Namibia: Rape Accused Must Show Tattoos

A MAN charged with committing a series of sexual crimes in the Windhoek area between December 2012 and October 2018 must allow the police to inspect his body and take photos of any tattoos he might be sporting, a judge ordered in the Windhoek High Court yesterday.

Judge Dinnah Usiku made the order in a ruling delivered in the trial of Gavin Gawanab (27), who is being prosecuted on 23 charges, including three counts of rape, three counts of attempted rape, four charges of attempted murder and several counts of assault and assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm.

Gawanab's defence lawyer, Mbanga Siyomunji, opposed an application in which deputy prosecutor general Innocentia Nyoni asked the court to compel Gawanab to allow photos of his body to be taken to ascertain if he carries any marks or distinguishing features.

The state's application followed on testimony in which witnesses in Gawanab's trial told the court that a person who attacked and sexually violated them had tattoos on his arms and legs. One of the witnesses also recalled that her attacker had tattoos in the form of a star on one of his feet, Usiku noted in her ruling.

Siyomunji argued it would infringe Gawanab's constitutional rights to dignity, freedom and bodily integrity and his right to be presumed innocent and not to have to assist the prosecution to prove its case against himself if he had to allow photos of marks on his body to be taken.

Usiku remarked that an order to compel Gawanab to allow photos to be taken of any marks or distinguishing features on his body could either exonerate or incriminate him in connection with the offences over which he is being tried. Under the circumstances of the case, the state's request must be allowed, she concluded.

The state is alleging that Gawanab carried out attacks on girls and women in Windhoek and on farms close to the city on seven separate occasions over a span of nearly six years.

The alleged attacks happened in December 2012, May 2013, September 2015, September 2016, April 2017 and September and October 2018.

During two of the incidents, Gawanab is alleged to have raped girls below the age of 14, while a 31-year-old woman is claimed to have been raped in another incident.

The prosecution is also alleging that Gawanab strangled and attempted to rape a nine-year-old girl on another occasion, in May 2013.

Gawanab denied guilt on all of the charges when his trial began in February this year.

The trial is due to continue from 20 September.

Gawanab, who was arrested near the end of October 2018, is being held in custody.

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