WINDHOEK – An Egyptian national who pleaded guilty to overstaying in Namibia for almost three years was fined in the Windhoek Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday. Hany Mohamed Ghobashy Khater, 28, told Magistrate Jermaine Muchali Muchali through an interpreter that he came to Namibia from Egypt through Zambia on June 26, 2011 by invitation from a friend that was in Namibia.
He entered the country with a 15-days visitor’s permit at the Zambia/Namibia border. “I came to visit and get work. I did not have enough money, and I did not know the law of the country,” he said after Muchali asked him why he pleaded guilty. He further informed the magistrate that his friend left the country to go back to Egypt without him and he was left stranded. He told the court that although he knew that he was illegally in Namibia, he was scared and worried.
Khater was arrested on April 14 this year, exactly two years, nine months and 13 days after the expiry of his visitor’s permit. His illegal status was detected when he went to visit friends and had problems with the landlord who called the police. The police took him to the police station where he was interrogated and told to report the next morning at the immigration office.
In mitigation of sentence, Khater told Muchali that he was the eldest of four siblings who were studying and that his father was very old and earned a small salary, that’s why he remained in Namibia illegally as he was trying to earn a living. He called one witness, a woman named Lucresia Haakuria, who claimed to be the wife of Khater.
She asked the court for an order to deport Khater back to his home country to get his papers in order so that he could return to Namibia legally and continue with the business they started together.
“He is a good husband, we never had problems and it is because of him that I managed to feed myself and my family,” she told Muchali.
Verinao Kamahene for the State argued that offenders were not shaken by the sentences imposed by the courts for previous convictions. He said that Khater showed a total and utter disregard for the laws of Namibia. “The accused did not stay for days or even months, but for two years, nine months and 13 days,” he said and continued: “There is just no justification for the actions of the accused.”
The prosecutor told the court that this was an instance that called for the maximum sentence of N$12 000 or three years imprisonment.
In sentencing Muchali said that sentencing is the most sensitive part of a trial because if a proper and balanced sentence is not imposed it will either be unpleasant for an accused, unreasonable for the State or lenient in the eyes of the community.
He said that Khater was a first offender who pleaded guilty at the first opportunity presented to him and had expressed remorse.
He said that the courts should send a clear message that should be heard inside and outside Namibia’s borders that such crime would not be tolerated. He then sentenced Khater to pay a fine of N$10 000 or in default spend two years behind bars.
By Roland Routh