A resident of the informal settlement of DRC in Swakopmund was on Friday convicted by Judge Christi Liebenberg of murder, read with the provisions of the Combating of Domestic Violence Act, for the death of his live-in girlfriend.
While the State asked the judge to convict Fabianus Shekunyenge, 32, of murder with direct intent for beating his 19-year-old girlfriend to death with a stick and a palm tree branch, the judge found it was not established that he set out to kill when he attacked her.
Shekunyenge has a four-year old son with the deceased.
Liebenberg, however, found that Shekunyenge should have foreseen the possibility that Rodnella Awises could die as a result of the assault perpetrated on her at the DRC settlement in Swakopmund in the early morning hours of October 28, 2012 resulting in her death four days later, while she was being transported to Windhoek by ambulance.
According to the judge, the defence of Shekunyenge, that he defended himself against Awises who wanted to stab him when she arrived at their shack “staggering drunk”, was highly unlikely and must be rejected.
He said that according to the accused’s own evidence and that of the two state witnesses the deceased did not pose a threat to him and that he beat her in retaliation for the alleged knife attack. After the verdict was delivered State Advocate Shakwa Nyambe called the mother of the deceased to testify in aggravation of sentence.
The clearly distraught Veronica Awises told the court she still has not made peace with her daughter’s death: “The death of my daughter touched me deeply and till today I cannot forget the incident,” she told the court. She added that Shekunyenge never showed any remorse and “until today has not apologised to the family of the deceased”.
“He must get a hefty sentence so that he can also feel the pain I feel over my daughter,” she said through a Damara/Nama interpreter. Shekunyenge told the court in mitigation that he has four minor children, including the one he has with the deceased.
According to him, his other three children live at a village in the north and he provides for them financially. Speaking through an Oshiwambo interpreter he informed the court he did not feel good about what happened “because it was not supposed to be this way”.
He asked the court to impose a fine on him, as the survival of his children would be jeopardised if he can no longer provide for them.
His state-funded lawyer, Titus Ipumbu, asked the court to impose a prison term of no more than 15 years, as a custodial sentence would be inevitable. He further said Shekunyenge was a first offender and had shown remorse for his actions.
He asked the court to give his client a chance to return to society and his children as a reformed citizen.
Nyambe, on the other hand, asked the court to set an example by emphasising the element of deterrence over the element of mercy in the interest of society.
According to him there is an outcry over the escalation of crimes against women and children in the country. Nyambe told the court Shekunyenge’s offence is a serious one and far too prevalent. Something must be done to send a warning to people with similar intentions that the courts will not tolerate it.
He asked the court to impose a sentence of at least 35 years’ imprisonment.
Liebenberg reserved his judgment and indicated that he would deliver sentence on Friday November 20 at 12h00.