State may appeal Hoff conviction

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Windhoek, 31 August 2017- Sussane Hoff, 56. (Photo: Contributed). NAMPA

Roland Routh

Windhoek-The Windhoek High Court has granted the prosecutor-general leave to appeal the conviction of estate agent Susanne Hoff on a charge of attempted murder, instead of attempted conspiracy to commit murder.

Regional Court Magistrate Alexis Diergaardt convicted Hoff in March this year on the lesser charge of attempted murder, instead of the offence she was initally charged with: attempted consipracy to murder.

The prosecutor-general subsequently applied to the High Court for leave to appeal. Judge Alfred Siboleka, who wrote the judgment delivered Monday, said the prospects of success on appeal are abundant.

Hoff was charged with conspiring with Willibard Malima and Funuel Haiduwa to kill her estranged husband, Egbert Eugene Hoff. However, the hired henchmen made a U-turn and informed Egbert Hoff of the plan. A trap was then set for Susanne.

The facts of the matter are that Hoff hatched the plan and made an initial payment to the would-be killers to speed up the process, but instead of executing the job as discussed the hired henchmen informed the intended victim of the plan – and a trap was set.

The police were informed of the plan and Hoff was told that her husband had accordingly been killed, as she had directed. She believed the deed was done and arranged with the would-be killers to receive the rest of their payment. She was then arrested and charged.

During her trial, Hoff claimed she paid the “killers” the money to inform her of her husband’s activities, as he apparently stole her thoroughbred horses to sell them. Her claims were, however, refuted and the magistrate convicted her of attempted murder.

She was sentenced to a fine of N$30,000 and 300 hours of community service, in addition to a two-year suspended sentence. According to the magistrate, given that death did not ensue it was appropriate to convict Hoff on attempted murder.

The PG – not satisfied with the verdict and the sentence – applied to the High Court to appeal the verdict.
The PG claimed the magistrate misdirected herself when she convicted Hoff on attempted murder by failing to apply her mind to the circumstances of the case and the evidence led by the State, which proved beyond reasonable doubt that Hoff was guilty of attempted conspiracy to commit murder, thus contravening the Riotous Assemblies Act of 1956.

The PG further lamented the finding of the magistrate that the so-called hired killers were not in agreement with Susanne Hoff’s plan to kill Egbert and that this meant there was no attempt to conspire to kill, while convicting her of the lesser charge of attempted murder, given she was not charged with the offence of murder.

Judge Siboleka agreed with the prosecutor-general that the verdict was incorrect, because Hoff was charged with a statutory offence (attempted conspiracy to murder) and not a common law offence (such as murder).
The State was represented by Marthino Olivier and Hoff by Advocate Schimming-Chase.

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