‘Katutura strangler’ disputes confession

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Alleged Katutura strangler Moses Puleni, in the dock at the High Court.

Image: Alleged Katutura strangler Moses Puleni

Windhoek

The alleged murderer of 18-year-old Paulina Nghidinitango, who was strangled to death, is disputing a confession he made to a magistrate at the Windhoek Magistrate’s Court in Katutura on January 5, 2012.

Moses Ndiiweda Puleni, 29, told the court he was coerced into making the confession following threats of violence by the police officers involved in his case.

According to his state-funded lawyer Mbanga Siyomunji he has instructions that Puleni feared for his life if he did not do as the police officers had told him.

The magistrate who took the confession told Judge Nate Ndauendapo yesterday that he did not observe any uneasiness or fear when he took down the statement.

In fact, magistrate Johannes Shuuveni told the court the accused was adamant that he wanted to make a confession to a magistrate in spite of already having made one to a police officer.

He said Puleni “appeared in his sound and sober senses and was normal and relaxed”.
Shuuveni further informed the court he repeatedly asked him if he was coerced or threatened in any way to make the confession and the answer was no every time.

Defence counsel Siyomunji did not take this lying down however and hammered on the issue of whether the accused was “adequately” informed of his legal right not to incriminate himself.

He centred around the issue to the extent that the judge had to remind him that the question was already asked and answered.
Siyomunji also went all out when he cross-examined the interpreter, Olga Titus.

He wanted to know from her what rights were explained to his client.
Titus said she remembered that Puleni was advised of his rights to legal representation.

When pressed on what other rights were explained the witness informed the court she was suffering from memory loss since being involved in a motor vehicle accident and thus could not remember every detail of the day.

However, she was as confident as the magistrate that Puleni was indeed relaxed and normal when he made the confession.
The accused denied guilt on charges of murder, rape and robbery with aggravating circumstances when his trial started in the Windhoek High Court almost a year ago.

It is alleged that Puleni and the deceased were together at the shebeen in Albert Conradie Street in Katutura on December 31, 2011 when he attacked her and bound her up with pieces of cable and/or wire.

He allegedly then proceeded to rape her whereafter he killed her by strangling her with his hands and/or a piece of wire and/or by smothering her with a towel.

He then robbed the shebeen of N$69 000 in cash, two cellphones, a pair of spectacles, three wallets, an unknown amount of liquor, an unknown amount of cigarettes, MTC airtime vouchers, a Nokia cellphone charger, two bundles of keys and two identity documents belonging to the deceased and/or Josef Siwombe and/or Matine Siwombe, it is alleged in the charge sheet.

Puleni, who hails from the Ohangwena Region, was arrested three days after the gruesome discovery was made at Damara location in the Katutura area.

The trial continues today and Puleni is in custody.

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