Windhoek-Plesie Gowaseb, who admitted he set a room on fire that ultimately claimed the life of his former girlfriend and mother of his two living children because he was “blinded by anger”, was on Wednesday sentenced to an effective 38 years behind bars by High Court Judge Christi Liebenberg.
Gowaseb was convicted by Liebenberg on a count of murder, read with the provisions of the Domestic Violence Act, and one count of arson after he pleaded guilty to the murder of Petrina Goagoseb in Dordabis during the period October 13 to 14, 2012 causing her to die from her injuries on October 21, 2012.
He also admitted he wrongfully, unlawfully and maliciously set the house the deceased lived in on fire. On the count of murder he was sentenced to 34 years, and on the count of arson to eight years. Four years of the sentence on the arson count were, however, ordered to run concurrently with the sentence on the murder count.
Judge Liebenberg said the court has in past judgments made it clear that it considers crimes committed in a domestic setting in a serious light and would increasingly impose heavier sentences to bring an end to the spate of murders currently experienced.
“The present instance is just another example of the extent of abuse and crimes committed on a daily basis in our society, where the weak and vulnerable often pay with their lives for no reason at all”, Judge Liebenberg stated.
According to him, differences between persons in virtually any relationship, moreover when it is romantic in nature, are likely to arise and as human beings we are often confronted with difficult situations that require emotional decision-making. It is simply part of life, he stressed.
That, he said, obviously include break-ups in relationships and irrespective how difficult and painful the process may be to the affected parties, they are bound by the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution, including the moral values endorsed and upheld by society.
It is, therefore, in the interest of justice that these rights and mutual respect for one another be protected and upheld at all cost, the judge said and emphasised that the courts play an important role in upholding the rule of law through its decisions and the sentences they imposed.
In the present instance, the judge said, the deceased had all the right to terminate her relationship with the accused for whatever reason, without her becoming a victim for having done so. “The accused was enraged by the deceased’s decision and driven by nothing else but hatred and jealousy when deciding to end the deceased’s life”, Judge Liebenberg stated.
He said there can be no doubt that both crimes committed were serious, particularly when regard is had to the brutal and merciless attack on a vulnerable person in the safety of her own home – moreover, the mother of his children.
“I can hardly imagine something more horrid happening to a person who is set alight – more so, when the innocent victim is a defenceless and helpless person. His actions were unexpected and callous, perpetrated with direct intent to kill”, Judge Liebenberg said
This was yet another senseless killing, he said, that could have been avoided, had the accused not served his own interests at the expense of others.