A lack of evidence to pertinently connect him to housebreaking charges – despite him being positively identified as one of four persons jumping out of a burgled building – proved to be a lucky break for a Walvis Bay resident this week.
Judges Alfred Siboleka and Dinah Usiku upheld an appeal Barnabas Iipinge launched against his conviction on a charge of housebreaking with intent to steal and theft and a subsequent 36-month jail term.
The judges ruled that none of the housebreaking charges levelled against Iipinge were proved beyond reasonable doubt.
Iipinge and two co-accused were charged with two burglaries that occurred on April 23, 2014. It was revealed during the hearing that the main accused broke into a house at 833/24 Stonefish Street, Kuisebmund. After fleeing the scene he was located by police officers, who had followed his footprints from the scene of another break-in, together with Iipinge and ‘Tsotsi’, who were apparently seen jumping from the building and running away.
According to evidence led during the trial in the Walvis Bay Magistrate’s Court, Iipinge was positively identified by one Pieter Nelson, who was with fellow police officers following the tracks of a suspected burglar. Nelson told the court that he recognised Iipinge, as he used to see him reporting at the Kuisebmund Police Station.
He said the visibility was good that night and he clearly saw Iipinge – who drew a knife and threatened him to the extent that he was forced to give way and let him pass.
Despite him firing a warning shot the suspect continued to run away, the police officer informed the court.
The court was further informed that the first accused was arrested after he was caught by police officers after a chase. He reportedly informed the police that he was with a certain Balla, (the nickname of Iipinge), as well as ‘Tsotsi’ (also known as Sam), another accused in the matter.
Judge Siboleka, who wrote the judgment, said the mere fact that the version of the police officers that the first accused told them he was with ‘Balla’ was not repeated, confirmed and placed on record by him during his evidence in chief, was a blow to the State’s case against Iipinge.
“All the allegations regarding the appellant in this matter were brought to a dead end by this eventuality,” the judge stated. “He has, therefore, not been positively connected to any of the housebreakings at the flat or at property 833/24 in Stonefish Street. The evidence that he was positively seen among the four suspects jumping out of Namsov building alone does not connect him to any of the said burglaries there,” the judge said.
He concluded that in light of their findings the conviction and sentence of Iipinge cannot be allowed to stand.