High Court Judge Christi Liebenberg yesterday sentenced 42-year-old Jesaya Nicanor to 47 years behind bars for the murder and rape of lodge manager Fiona Ann Holton.
“Given the prevalence, seriousness of the crime and circumstances under which the accused committed the offences, his personal circumstances cannot outweigh the interest of society and, therefore, calls for a severe punishment to deter the accused and others from committing similar offences,” he said.
Liebenberg sentenced Nicanor to 40 years’ imprisonment for the murder conviction and 17 years for the rape. He, however, ordered that 10 years of the sentence on the rape conviction run concurrently with the sentence on the murder conviction.
The judge related the personal circumstances of Nicanor, noting that he has 17 children from 14 different mothers, with ages ranging between two and 25 years old and is expecting twins in the near future and that his mother of 83 years is dependent on him.
Judge Liebenberg further made mention of Nicanor’s insistence that he is innocent and the target of enforcement agents falsely implicating him.
While it is often the case that during sentencing procedures consideration is mostly focussed on the personal circumstances of the accused, the judge said, it is seldom that evidence is led about the person the victim was prior to the incident, and the effect on the family due to the loss of a loved one in murder cases, or the effect on the victim in a rape case, and what happens to such person after the trial.
“Sadly they often just become another statistic and that is wrong” the judge stressed.
The evidence of a sister of the deceased portrayed her as a person who at a very young age showed a remarkable love for animals and nature conservation.
The deceased lived out her passion for nature and left footprints all over Namibia in her work at various game reserves, but sadly lost her life at one of the places she loved most, Etosha, the judge remarked. In this connection, the judge said, court proceedings where the victim was referred to as ‘the deceased’ or ‘female 1’ do not show who the person really was and the effect her death had on her loved ones.
“It was, therefore, apposite to bring this to the court’s attention at the stage of sentence, where regard is had to all the circumstances, either mitigating or aggravating, to assist the court in determining what punishment would be just and suitable in the circumstances of the case,” Liebenberg stated.
He said when looking into the circumstances in which the deceased was raped and murdered, a grim picture emerges.
“Firstly, the attack was brutal and required the application of substantial force to the head of the deceased, resulting in death on the spot. Secondly, the deceased was in the safety of her home at a lodge or camp where she should have been safe.”
He said Nicanor can be placed in the category of persons, who are a danger to society and against whom society needs protection. He said the lack of remorse and the persistent claims of innocence from Nicanor clearly categorise him as a person unwilling to take responsibility for his actions, thus increasing the risk of re-offending.
“These despicable crimes are more prevalent than ever and there is undoubtedly widespread outrage in our society against the senseless killing of the most vulnerable in its midst,” he said.
The judge said there are indicators that the crimes were premeditated. It was a cowardly attack on a defenceless woman in the safety of her own home. It was sexually motivated and ended in the senseless killing of the victim.