The Katutura Magistrate’s Court yesterday sentenced 29-year-old police constable Linus Nzwana to 18 years in prison in connection with the murder of 22-year-old Joel Martin, who was gunned down in cold blood on the streets of Katutura, Windhoek in August 2013.
Lzwana, who has been on suspension since the incident pending the finalisation of his case, was found guilty of murder with direct intent earlier this month.
“The accused is sentenced to 20 years in prison, of which two years are suspended for a period of five years, on condition that the accused is not convicted of murder or assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm during the suspension period,” Magistrate Ileni Velikoshi ruled.
The court noted that the deceased never presented a threat to Nzwana’s life when he was gunned down on August 10, 2013. According to the prosecution, Nzwana was driving his white pickup truck in Katutura when he approached the deceased in the company of three friends.
Upon passing by the group the deceased allegedly uttered a derogatory statement directed at Nzwana, who then immediately brought his vehicle to a halt, after reversing to where the deceased was standing at the time.
Nzwana then reportedly got out of the vehicle and approached the deceased to ask about his utterance and after a brief exchange got back to his vehicle and took out his 9mm personal pistol and fired a shot directly at the deceased, without even firing a warning shot.
Nzwana fled the scene after killing Martin, but later handed himself over at the Katutura police station. Throughout the trial Nzwana had claimed the deceased, who was holding a half empty Savannah cider bottle, had wanted to attack him, a version which the court dismissed as evidently untrue.
During sentencing, Nzwana, a first-time offender, offered his condolences and apologised to the bereaved family for the murder. “I could have picked other ways to deal with the situation rather than shooting,” he acknowledged.