A man who was convicted of beating his 19-year-old girlfriend to death with a stick and a palm tree branch in 2012 was sentenced to 30 years in prison on Friday by Judge Christi Liebenberg.
Fabianus Shekunyenge, 32, was found guilty of murder with direct intent for beating Rodnella Awises, with whom he has a four-year-old son. He beat her so severely at the DRC settlement in Swakopmund in the early morning hours of October 28, 2012, that she sucumbed to her wounds.
The beating resulted in Awises’ death on November 2, 2012 while being transported by an ambulance to Windhoek.
“Incidents of domestic violence against women and children are notoriously prevalent in our society and every law-abiding citizen is shocked to the core at the rate of crimes of murder and rape committed against the most vulnerable in society, and the brutality and callousness that accompany them,” Liebenberg said.
He further said the courts are under a duty to censure these “despicable acts” and ensure that offenders convicted of such crimes are dealt with to the fullest extent of the law.
“There is undoubtedly widespread outrage in society against these heinous crimes and the courts cannot turn a blind eye to that outrage, lest they encourage the breakdown of law and order, and injured persons in the community taking the law into their own hands.”
According to the judge even though the courts should not give in to public pressure or expectation, they must take into account the interests of society and impose sentences which reflect the natural indignation of interested persons and the community at large.Liebenberg further said the seriousness of the crime of murder is such that it usually attracts a lengthy custodial sentence and it would only be in exceptional circumstances where this is not the case.
“In my view there are no exceptional circumstances in the present matter justifying punishment other than in the form of a custodial sentence,” he told Shekunyenge.
The judge said that there appears to be a widespread view that life itself is unimportant and not worthy of respect, whilst it is the most precious asset we have.
He further said the courts have an important duty to society and this view of disrespect towards other must be stamped out at all costs.
“One way of achieving this is that punishment will become progressively heavier until the tide is turned and criminals like the accused learn to respect the fundamental rights of others,” he emphasised before sending Shekunyenge to jail.