Swiegers’ Alleged Murderers’ First Court Appearance

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By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK Two men appeared briefly in the Katutura Magistrate’s Court yesterday in connection with the armed robbery and killing of Windhoek resident and comet-watcher, Kerneels (Neels) Swiegers, on January 18 this year. The two accused are Festus Kimba and Joseph Shikongo. Appearing before Windhoek Magistrate Lea Shaanika, the two accused handled their own case in their first court appearance. They were both denied bail and remain in police custody. Their case has been postponed to April 27 for further police investigation. A third suspect in the case, Max Cleophas, appeared in the Windhoek Magistrate’s Court on Friday on the same charges of alleged robbery and murder. Two weeks ago, 27-year-old Erastus Haikali and 28-year-old Petrus Mathias also appeared in the Katutura Magistrate’s Court in connection with stolen items beloinging to the deceased. That case was also remanded to April 27 pending further police investigations. However, Namibian Police Public Relations and Liaison Division reported earlier that Haikali and Mathias were arrested only on charges of being in possession of suspected stolen property. It is alleged that the two suspects bought items stolen during the robbery that claimed the life of Swiegers, said police spokesperson, Warrant Officer James Matengu. They allegedly bought a cellphone belonging to Swiegers and two cameras that were stolen in the robbery. The 53-year-old Swiegers, who was employed at a car dealership in Windhoek, and a couple of friends were attacked whilst looking at Comet McNaught outside Windhoek shortly after sunset on the evening of January 18. Swiegers and his friends were photographing the comet, said to be the brightest comet to be visible from Earth in more than 40 years, from a hilltop in the Goreangab Dam area when three masked men emerged from the dark and held them at gunpoint. One of the men fired a shot, which struck Swiegers in the chest, killing him instantly. The robbers then fled from the scene after taking a camera, a memory card and a wallet that Swiegers had with him. They also robbed Swiegers’ companions of two cameras, the police reported after the incident. On that fateful day of January 18, what was supposed to have been a family comet observation excursion ended tragically when Swiegers was shot through the heart at a sighting post where they were photographing the night sky. The late Swiegers was employed by a second-hand car-dealer business and was also a freelance photographer. He was busy taking photographs for the Observer newspaper on the hill behind Goreangab Dam when the shooting incident took place.

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