Court frees murder suspects

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WINDHOEK – Purported assaults by members of the Namibian Police of three suspects charged with housebreaking with intent to rob, robbery and various counts of rape resulted in their being discharged.

Judge Christie Liebenberg found Herman Mbango, Simon Shaanika and Tylves Shaanika not guilty on all charges in the High Court in Oshakati after the State closed its case.

The three suspects pleaded not guilty to all charges when their trial started in early July 2012 and did not give evidence in their own defence at the close of the State’s case.

According to Liebenberg, the alleged pointing out by the accused was not made freely and voluntarily and as such was not admissible as evidence.

Liebenberg said he was not satisfied the witnesses testifying for the State – including the police officers involved in the investigation – were credible in material aspects and that their evidence seemed unreliable. He said there were simply too many unexplained contradictions to find that the truth had been told.

While the accused may have exaggerated the extent of the assaults perpetrated against them after their arrest, the State failed to show that any “extra-judicial admission – which include any pointing out – was made voluntarily by the accused because the possibility of them having been assaulted by the police could not be ruled out,” Liebenberg further said before freeing the suspects.

He said all three accused had injuries or wounds – albeit minor – to support their evidence about them being assaulted after their arrest, which in his view constituted prima facie evidence the State had to rebut.

This however came in the form of a blanket denial because, in their view, the police did not need to assault the accused, as they had been co-operating from the outset, according to Liebenberg.

He said the contradictions and shortcomings in the State’s case supported the accused’s version about assaults perpetrated against them.

Mbango and the two Shaanika’s were charged jointly with one count of housebreaking with intent to rob and robbery with aggravating circumstances, nine counts of rape and one count of murder in connection with a robbery that turned into a rape and murder at Six Mabone Bar at Onakaheke village in the Outapi district at the end of March 2011.

 

 

By Roland Routh

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