A perpetual convict was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment yesterday in the Tsumeb Magistrate’s court after he was found guilty on two counts of house-breaking and intent to steal, theft, as well as arson.
The 24-year-old Markus Sourb from Tsumeb’s Blikkies location was found guilty of having set fire to a farmhouse some 70 kilometres outside Tsumeb on June 23, 2013 at Aandveld, and stealing property worth N$5 475.05 before setting the house on fire.
In 2009 Sourib was convicted of stocktheft and of escaping from lawful custody. The stolen goods consisted of blankets, shoes, jackets and clothes, among others, which were later found at the suspect’s room at his mother’s house in Grootfontein, where he was residing at the time.
The farm belongs to Hildegard Dorothea Kahungi, 69, and the value of the destroyed property stood at N$2.3 million, with the value of the house at N$1.4 million. The house burned to cinders and nothing could be salvaged from the blaze, as there was no one at home at the time.
Kahungi, 67 at the time, said she was at the farm on June, 16, 2013 and ensured that the farmhouse was properly locked and everything was in place, but was surprised to be called on June, 23 with news that her house was on fire.
Sourib burned down the house in vengeance after he was convicted for stocktheft and spent three years in prison for stealing a goat of the complainant, a punishment which Sourib did not take lightly.
According to Magistrate Leopold Natangwe Hangalo, the evidence shows that Sourib admitted to burning down the house and claimed he was punished for a crime he did not commit, as he was not the one who stole the complainant’s goat.
Representing the State was Prosecutor Nelao Ya France, who argued that Sourib has become a threat to the community, considering his past convictions but never seemed to repent for his wrongdoings.
Due to the seriousness of the offence and in the best interest of the community, the prosecutor called for a heavy sentence, also considering that the accused knew each other. He further noted that the complaint lost valuable property that was sentimental to her, including documents and photos that can never be recovered again.
“A house is regarded as someone’s castle, where one considers her/himself safe, including their property, but illegally breaking into someone’s house and putting their lives at risk infringes on someone’s privacy and this is a serious offence” Ya France stated when roposing an eight-year sentence on the first count of house-breaking with intent to steal, and theft, as well as 14 years on the second count of arson.
This was buttressed by Magistrate Hangalo, who said to Sourib that “hardworking people are out there working hard to put together and protect the little they have, while some lazy-minded people like you come and destroy what they have worked for.”
“That was not the only remedy or route you were supposed to take to vent your anger by deciding to take the law into your own hands. Even after three convictions you still commit another crime… We, in a justice system, are mandated to keep such people away and protect the community,” Hangalo said.
Before passing sentence, he noted it was in the best interest of the community given the nature of the crime, “that the suspect be remanded in custody for 20 years”.
The magistrate further went to say all the evidence presented pointed to Sourib. State witnesses said Sourib left his house in Grootfontein for a week and when he returned he had blankets, jackets, and shoes that he did not before. When asked about the goods he apparently said that he got them “from a wealthy white person”.
Evidence presented by the National Forensic Science Institute (NFSI) showed that the kitchen-window of the farmhouse was broken into and major damage was detected in the storeroom, where it was suspected the fire may have been started.
One farmworker, who also testified, knew the suspect and said they saw Sourib riding on a bicycle in the direction of the farm on the day in question. He was reportedly not carrying anything with him at the time, yet upon his return they saw him with a bag and other goods.