Windhoek-Riaan Khachab and Hans Gerhard Kamberipa, who were convicted of the brutal murder of Rehoboth farmer Ernst Jacobus Cloete, who was 70 years old at the time of his death, were each sentenced to an effective 39 years in prison by Judge Dinah Usiku in the Windhoek High Court on Friday.
They will serve their senteces at the Windhoek Correctional Facility.
Usiku sentenced them to 24 years for murder without direct intent, 12 years for robbery with aggravating circumstances, three years for defeating or obstructing the course of justice, three years for unlawful possession of a firearm without a license and three years for unlawful possession of ammunition.
It was ordered that the three years of the defeating the course of justice sentence run concurrently with the sentence on the robbery charge and that the sentence on the arms and ammunition counts run together, resulting effectively in 39 years behind bars. Khachab and Kamberipa were convicted of the offences by Usiku on May 11.
They were convicted of killing the septuagenarian with an axe and of robbing him of his wallet containing N$300 in cash and personal documents, his cellphone, as well as a rifle and ammunition on November 28, 2011 at Farm Drie Riviere in the Rehoboth district. The elderly man’s lifeless body was discovered a couple of days later during a search by family members and the police.
Judge Usiku said the fact the accused were convicted of murder without direct intent does not make the crime less serious. She said the deceased was overpowered and his properties were stolen from him and although the accused persons have maintained their innocence, one must consider the deceased’s body mass at the time of his death.
“It could not have been possible for accused one alone to overpower the deceased without assistance from accused two, who in fact confirmed to have been present on the crime scene. All indications are that the accused persons acted in concert in the attack and killing of the deceased, whereafter they tied him up and left him covered with bushes in order to conceal his body.”
Judge Usiku went on to say while it is trite law that the period an accused spent in custody awaiting trial has to be taken into account when passing sentence, the court was well aware that the Namibian nation is at present plagued by violent crimes.
“The spilling of blood and the taking of lives through violent means has become commonplace,” she observed.
“Our courts are therefore tasked with a duty to protect the most vulnerable groups, such as the elderly and children, to ensure that their right to life and dignity are protected and respected. No one would want a situation whereby the community became helpless and then decides to take the law into their own hands due to lenient sentences imposed by the courts.”
She emphasised it was important for the courts to punish those who commit serious crimes, so as to prevent them from committing similar crimes in future and also to warn others about the consequences of committing such crimes.
“It appears to this court that the sentences that were imposed on the accused persons previously had no impact on their rehabilitation, as they have continued to commit even more serious crimes,” the judge stated in sentencing sent an unequivocal message to society that such behaviour will not be tolerated or condoned.
State Advocate Cliff Lutibezi prosecuted, while Brownell Uirab and Mese Tjituri appeared on behalf of Khachab and Kamberipa.