Otto Angula, the man convicted of negligently causing the death of his girlfriend at a dumpsite in Walvis Bay in 2012 was yesterday sentenced to an effective eight years in prison.
Judge Alfred Siboleka acquitted Angula in May on a murder charge and instead found that he acted negligently when he hit 32-year-old Martha Nakale with an iron bar on her head.
During submissions on sentencing Angula told the court he knows that he did wrong and needs to be punished, but asked the court to show him mercy.
Judge Siboleka said in his sentence reasons that although Angula only apologised in mitigation of sentence for the death of the deceased, he showed genuine contrition.
He said while Angula did not personally attend the funeral of the deceased, his family members did so on his behalf and also assisted the family of the deceased financially and with transportation.
The accused has spent three years and six months in custody, awaiting the finalisation of the matter, the judge remarked and continued: “He did not intend to kill the deceased. He hit her only once to free himself from her hold before Aina arrived at the scene.”
Aina Sestenus was a witness in the trial and Angula testified in court that he was afraid of her, as she beat him up on a previous occasion.
According to the judge, Aina could be considered dangerous, because whenever she is called to break up a fight, she would instead come and seriously beat up the person fighting with the one who called her.
Judge Siboleka said the accused and the deceased were in a romantic relationship and both worked at the dumpsite. According to him, the accused was infuriated when the deceased told him about a “lovely night” she had spent with another man and demanded back some jewellery he had given her.
When the deceased refused they engaged in a grabbing contest and the deceased screamed, calling Aina for help – and Aina came running.
“On seeing Aina approaching the accused tried to free himself from the deceased’s firm hold on his belt, but failed,” the judge noted, adding that the accused knew Aina as a dangerous woman.
In another instance, instead of separating Angula and another woman who were involved in a scuffle, Aina and her friend reportedly grabbed the accused and threw him to the ground, where they throttled him and grabbed his private parts until another person came to his rescue.
Therefore, “the accused genuinely believed that if Aina found him in such a compromised position she would beat him up straight away,” Judge Siboleka said.
This was what caused the accused to pick up a piece of iron and hit the deceased on the head causing her to let go and fall down, Judge Siboleka added.
According to him, the medical evidence was unclear. It only showed that one or more blows may have been inflicted on Nakale.
Judge Siboleka said a death occasioned by violence in a domestic setting is serious indeed and the penalties imposed must reflect the seriousness with which the courts view such offences.
“The protection of women and children must be expressed in the type of sentences handed down to convictees,” the judge said.
He further reasoned that the sentences should send out a clear message to would-be offenders that domestic violence will not go unpunished within our society.
State Advocate Cliff Lutibezi prosecuted the matter and Angula defended himself.