Keetmanshoop murder accused disputes admissions

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Roland Routh

Windhoek-Despite wanting to plead guilty at his first appearance in the Keetmanshoop Magistrate’s Court, the alleged killer of retired school teacher Magrietha Aletta Thirion now disputes a warning statement, a confession to a magistrate and a pointing out to a police officer.

The pointing out was reportedly made to a senior police officer at the scene of the crime.
Jan Benedictus Fredericks is adamant he was repeatedly assaulted by Sergeant Rudolf Kooper, the arresting officer, as well as Warrant Officer Willem Dierstaan on various occasions and threatened he should make the admissions that incriminated him.

According to Fredericks, he was taken by Kooper and Dierstaan behind the old hospital in Keetmanshoop on three separate occasions, where he was handcuffed in the figure eight – one arm over the left shoulder and the other arm up from the waist.

According to him a chain was then attached to his handcuffs and the chain hoisted over a tree. He was then made to stand on a chair, which was subsequently kicked from under him, leaving him hanging from the cuffs. This, he said, he endured on three consecutive days.

He further told Judge Nate Ndauendapo, during his evidence in a trial within a trial to determine the admissibility of the admissions, that he suffered injuries on his wrists as well as internal injuries due to the assaults.

“I nearly died because of the assaults, but they refused to take me to hospital, instead they moved me from police station to police station,” he informed the court.

According to Fredericks, while he was held at Aroab Police Station, almost 200km from Keetmanshoop, he was fetched by Dierstaan to go and depose a confession to the magistrate at Keetmanshoop and on the way he was hit by Dierstaan with a firearm on the back of his head. He denied giving the magistrate any information, saying: “That man only asked me if I wanted a lawyer and if I was assaulted,” contrary to his instructions to his State-funded counsel, Mbanga Siyomunji.

The lawyer told the State witnesses during cross-examination that his client claims he told the magistrate what Kooper and Dierstaan forced him to say.

In his evidence, he claimed that he did not speak to the magistrate and that after he told the magistrate he was not assaulted, the magistrate, Frans Anderson, kept on writing “whatever he was writing” and only gave him the document to sign afterwards. On a question from the judge as to why he did not inform the magistrate he was assaulted by the police officers, Fredericks answered that he did not know he could tell the magistrate such things and that he was not in a mood to converse.

When the judge probed the issue further, Fredericks said he did not give any statements to anyone regarding the case and that he did not inform the magistrate about the assaults as he was “in pain”.

Dierstaan and Kooper already testified that neither of them laid a hand on Fredericks and that he gave his full cooperation as he “wanted to finalise the matter”.

They said he voluntarily gave his warning statement and the pointing out and requested to be taken to a magistrate to depose his confession.

Chief Inspector Herman Hatzenberg who conducted the pointing out also informed the court the accused made the pointing out voluntarily.

The investigating officer Detective Warrant Officer Paulus Apollus informed Judge Ndauendapo that Fredericks informed him that he wanted to show what happened and wanted to show where he stashed the items he stole from the house of the deceased.

The State is alleging that he killed the deceased with a wooden pole – also known as a dropper – at her residence in Keetmanshoop on November 6, 2012. Thirion died in the Katutura State Hospital the following morning as a result of severe head injuries.

It is further alleged that after he killed the deceased, Fredericks robbed her of a Nokia cellphone, simcard and an Emachene laptop and charger, a computer bag and a bedsheet/duvet cover.

State Advocate Dominic Lisulo is appearing on behalf of the State and Fredericks remains in custody.

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