Judgement for alleged killer of six-year-old in February

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Windhoek

Acting Judge Boas Usiku last week indicated that he will be ready with the verdict on murder accused, Desmond Cornelius Vries, 32, by February 28 next year.

Judge Usiku made the announcement after hearing arguments on whether the state proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Vries is guilty of the heinous murder.

He is accused of killing six-year-old Curtus Shille van der Westhuizen by hitting him, kicking him and strangling him while the child was in his care. He also faced two charges of assault by threat by allegedly threatening to kill Florencia Florida Piete on two separate occasions.

State advocate Simba Nduna asked the court to convict Vries on all charges he faces. According to Nduna he adduced enough evidence to prove that Vries killed the boy out of revenge for his mother’s apparent interference in his love relationship with the victim of his assault charges.

He said that while there is no direct evidence to the killing of the deceased, the evidence of one of the minor boys that he saw Vries kick the deceased and put a plastic bag over the face of the deceased should inform the court of his intention to harm the deceased. He further said that while the testimony of the minor boy constitutes single witness evidence it in material respects corroborates what the other state witnesses testified.

He asked the court to convict Vries of murder with direct intent.
Milton Engelbrecht, the state-funded lawyer of Vries, argued that the state did not prove that his client was the one who killed the victim. According to him no reliance can be placed on the evidence of the minor boy as it was testified by the other witnesses that he was reluctant to tell what happened and had to be “bribed” with a bicycle to testify.

He said the accused was a straightforward and credible witness who stood his ground during cross-examination and did not change his version since his bail application, and his instructions to the witnesses remained the same throughout the trial. According to Engelbrecht it is trite law that the onus in criminal cases to prove the guilt of an accused rests squarely on the shoulders of the state and in this instance the state failed miserably to discharge that responsibility.

According to Engelbrecht the state is asking the court to draw an inference from the facts that the accused is guilty but, he said, the inference can only be drawn if it is consistent with all the proven facts and should be the only inference that can be drawn. In this instance, Engelbrecht said, this is not the case and he asked the court to dismiss all charges against Vries as the state failed to prove the accused committed any offences.

Vries was sent back to the Karasburg Police Station holding cells where he is in custody in connection with the robbery and murder of Karasburg businessman Tillian Walters, a crime committed earlier this year while he was out on bail in this case.

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