Windhoek-Three prison inmates who were convicted of murdering a fellow inmate with ‘home-made’ weapons while in custody at Windhoek Correctional Facility were yesterday sentenced to 26 years each by High Court Judge Dinah Usiku.
The deceased had a romantic affair with one of the accused.
The judge said it was the court’s duty to combat crimes, especially those committed in correctional facilities that are meant to rehabilitate offenders, before she sentenced Herman Rukero, 29, Benedict Afrikaner, 31 and Maleachi Seibeb, 47, to 26 years each on the murder charge and three years on a conviction of obstruction of justice. The two sentences were ordered to run concurrently.
Rukero, Afrikaner and Seibeb were convicted by Judge Usiku in February for killing 33-year-old Eddy Gomxob in a bathroom at Unit 4 at the facility, after a sexual relationship between the deceased and Rukero went sour.
The defeating the course of justice charge relates to them threatening fellow inmates not to say anything.
According to Judge Usiku, the main reason for punishing convicted persons is to deter them and others from committing similar crimes and to reform them, if they are capable of being reformed.
She said society expects that people who have done wrong must be punished – that is the retributive purpose of punishment.
She continued: in this case the accused persons were in custody and one would have expected that to have had an impact on them to rehabilitate, but they went on to commit a serious crime within a correctional facility.
“The viciousness of the attack that was perpetrated on the deceased was barbaric to say the least,” Judge Usiku stressed. She noted that although Rukero was indeed a youthful offender, having been aged about 17 years when he was first sentenced, it must be noted that young offenders cannot always hide behind their youthfulness when guilty of committing serious crimes.
“The message should be clear to young people that they will not simply be excused by the courts on account of youthfulness and go scot-free, but where justice will not otherwise be done, they will be held accountable and be punished accordingly for the pain and misery caused to others as a result of serious crimes committed by them,” Justice Usiku stated.
Usiku said none of the accused showed genuine remorse, as none of them acknowledged their wrongful conduct towards the deceased.
She said it must be pointed out that the requirement for mercy does not mean the courts must be weak or must hesitate to impose heavy sentences where it is warranted by the circumstances.
“The wave of crimes sweeping through our country and the need to effectively combat such crimes call for our courts to change the emphasis from individualisation to deterrence, in particular where serious offences are committed within the correctional facilities where offenders are supposed to start their rehabilitation process,” Judge Usiku further stated.
She reiterated that the sanctity of life is a fundamental human right enshrined in law by the Constitution and must be respected and protected by all.
State Advocate Ethel Ndlovu appeared on behalf of the State. Mbanga Siyomunji represented both Rukero and Seibeb, while Milton Engelbrecht acted for Afrikaner, all on the legal aid ticket.