Family members of the man convicted of killing a member of the Men and Women Network Against Crime, 33-year-old Tobias Abisai, in Okuryangava in Windhoek on February 9, 2013 sat in stunned silence on Friday as Magistrate Sarel Jacobs sentenced the killer to 17 years in jail.
Jackson Absalom Panduleni bowed his head slightly in acceptance, as the magistrate condemned him to at least 10 years behind bars.
According to the Correctional Services Act, he will be eligible for parole after serving at least two-thirds of the sentence. Good behaviour can also play a role in reducing the sentence.
His State-funded lawyer, Afrika Jantjies, indicated immediately after pronouncement of the sentence that he intends to appeal both the conviction and sentence in the High Court.
According to the magistrate, a sentence that corresponds to the gravity of the offence should be imposed to emphasise the disapproval of society and to serve as a warning to others.
“No doubt that the crime of murder in any form remains a serious crime, which usually calls for severe punishment,” the magistrate said and continued: “A person lost his life due to the conduct of the accused. The sanctity of human life must be emphasised whenever a person is unlawfully killed.”
According to Jacobs, a firearm was used in the commissioning of the crime and it is unfortunate that in recent times crimes of violence committed by the use of firearms are on the increase.
“A clear message must be sent to the community at large that to resort to violence, particularly with firearms, would not be tolerated,” Magistrate Jacobs stressed.
He said the interests of society come to the fore when a member of society is unlawfully killed: “Law and order must prevail and society expects the court’s protection against lawlessness.”
He said people who are the day-to-day victims of crimes of violence in a society where crimes of violence are prevalent and on the increase are crying out for deterrent action.
“Society, therefore, expects that crimes of this nature be suitably punished in order to deter not only the accused from committing similar crimes in future, but also [to deter] would-be offenders.”
Panduleni is 30 years old and the father of two minor children, whom he maintains together with members of his extended family. He claimed that he should he be sentenced to a period of imprisonment, his family would not be able to survive without him.
The magistrate said a prison term is the inevitable consequence of his own conduct and one of the penalties convicted persons must pay.
“Regrettably one cannot allow one’s sympathy for them (the killer’s family and dependents) to deter one from imposing the kind of sentence dictated by the interest of justice and society.
“The accused, who is the breadwinner, should have known that he was placing the well-being of his family in jeopardy by resorting to crime.”
He said the accused knew what he was doing and was not placed in a position where he had lost control of the situation.
“He took the firearm with him when he visited the public place where a party was. He was aware of the fact that he was in position of a dangerous weapon. The accused for no reason fired a warning shot into the air, while running towards the entrance and shot the deceased, who was unarmed, did no harm to the accused and presented no threat to him, in the chest.
“By doing so, he showed no respect for human life and committed a brutal murder,” Magistrate Jacobs concluded as he handed down the jail sentence.