Namibia: Tattoos Could Solve Serial Rape Puzzle

22 April 2021

The High Court has given prosecution permission to capture bodily images and features of accused serial rapist Gavin Gawanab.

Judge Dinah Usiku said the assertion by Gawanab that the State wants to use the images to build a case against him cannot be entertained, as the images can also exonerate him from the crimes he is alleged to have committed.

"The investigating officer is hereby ordered to take images of bodily features of the accused before the trial resumes in this court," ordered Usiku.

Thus, the trial has now been postponed to 20 to 24 September.

Last month, the State applied to have the court compel Gawanab to allow the investigating officer to take pictures of his body features.

According to prosecutor Innocentia Nyoni, the minor victims indicated that the man who attacked and sexually violated them had distinctive tattoos on his arms and legs.

According to the prosecution, the victims recall that the perpetrator has a distinctive star tattoo right above his left ankle.

The State indicated that the issue of Gawanab's bodily features only came up during the trial, as the victims did not mention it in their statements.

Gawanab has been in police custody since his arrest in 2018 after he was accused of attempted murder after strangling a minor girl with the intent to murder her, assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and a further count of rape of the same victim. The incident occurred on 26 October 2018 near Farm Satansloch in Windhoek.

After allegedly violating the girl, he went into hiding in the mountains surrounding Windhoek, causing a massive manhunt for him.

He was on bail for several offences at the time of the attack on the minor girl.

It is further alleged that he assaulted another girl near the same farm on 29 September 2018 when he allegedly grabbed her by her waist and dragged her, causing injuries.

He also allegedly assaulted another young girl by stabbing her with an arrow and hitting her with his fist on 29 April 2017 in the Havana area of Windhoek before he proceeded to rape her and robbed her of money.

On the same day, the indictment read, Gawanab assaulted another young woman in the same area by stabbing her with an arrow.

He is further facing another count of assault with an intent to cause grievous bodily harm after stabbing another young woman on 2 September 2016 in Havana.

On the same day, he also allegedly threatened to stab another girl at the same location.

It is further claimed that on the same day in the same location, Gawanab forced another woman into a room and made her remove all her clothes under duress and attempted to rape her. However, he failed.

Gawanab is facing further counts of attempted murder, housebreaking with intent to rape and rape, read with the provisions of the Domestic Violence Act for raping another under-aged girl in the same location on 26 September 2015.

He also faces charges of assault by threat and crimen injuria for an incident that happened on 14 May 2013 at Farm Oas in the Windhoek District, where he swore at two complainants and threatened to stab them with a knife.

It is further alleged that on 22 December 2012, near Daan Viljoen in the Windhoek District, Gawanab attempted to rape another minor girl and tried to murder her by strangulation.

Gawanab is facing 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.

He has thus far denied guilt on all charges.

For his trial, Gawanab is represented by defence lawyer Mbanga Siyomunji.

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