Windhoek-Desmond Cornelius Vries, a resident of Keetmanshoop who since 2003 had been standing trial for allegedly strangling a six-year old boy to death, was yesterday acquitted of all charges. The 32-year old Vries faced a charge of murder and two counts of assault by threat for the untimely demise of Curtus Shille van der Westhuizen who was killed on the night of October 20, 2013 in Keetmanshoop.
In acquitting Vries, the Windhoek High Court Acting Judge, Boas Usiku, explained to the court that Vries cannot be convicted on the testimony of a single witness, whose evidence was not reliable. The witness was a minor who was not at the scene when the alleged dreadful act took place and who also told the court that a bicycle had been promised to him as a reward for this testimony.
“The evidence of a single witness falls short of the court standards to know that the truth has been told,” said Judge Usiku. He further explained that the witness was not present at the time when the accused was being strangled and that the State failed to prove the element of threat of immediate personal physical violence.
During the case it was alleged that Vries had earlier threatened Van der Westhuizen’s mother, Clemencia Piete, that he would “make her cry” and that he acted on this threat by killing her six-year old boy.
The State alleged that Vries had blamed Piete for meddling in his relationship with his girlfriend and as a result his girlfriend had taken to hanging out with other men.
Vries allegedly placed the six-year old boy’s lifeless body in bed, where he was later found. Further allegations where made that Vries had intentions of wrapping up the body in a plastic bag for later disposal.
The post-mortem examination report on Van der Westhuizen indicated that he died as a result of strangulation. Various indications such as marks and bruises on the boy’s neck show that continued heavy force had been applied to the boy’s neck, which consequently inflicted the injuries that deprived him of oxygen.
The court found that the evidence of testimony did not correlate with the evidence at hand. According to Judge Usiku the State failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused killed the deceased. Vries was acquitted on all charges.