37 years for murder and burning body

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Roland Routh

Windhoek-A man who was convicted of murdering a woman in Otjiwarongo in October 2015 and then setting her body alight to try and destroy the evidence of his crime was yesterday sentenced to an effective 37 years behind bars in the Windhoek High Court.

Judge Christi Liebenberg sentenced Ivan Hoëbeb to 34 years on the murder count, one year on a count of theft and six years on a count of attempting to defeat the course of justice.

Hoëbeb was convicted on one count of murder for killing 26-year-old Elizabeth Ganses during October 30 to 31, 2015, one count of theft for stealing her cellphone, and one count of attempting to defeat the course of justice for setting her body alight.

According to the judge, the court had to rely on inferences drawn from the proven facts to determine what sentence to impose, as the accused did not take the court into his confidence.

He said had the accused told the truth, the court would have had a clearer picture as to what happened, but in the absence of a motive to commit murder, it can only be seen as a senseless killing, which then makes the accused a danger to society.

Moreover, the judge said, if regard is had to his subsequent behaviour when trying to destroy the body by setting it alight.

He said crucial evidence and the truth of his version was deliberately withheld from the court and consequently the court had to draw inferences from established facts in order to determine the accused’s actions and state of mind at the time of committing the crimes.

“Had the accused taken the court into his confidence and not fabricated evidence favourable to him… the court in sentencing the accused would have had a much clearer picture of what actually transpired on that fateful day,” Judge Liebenberg stated.

He said the professed remorse of the accused loses some weight because he right up to the end tried to mislead the court and only exhibited his professed change of heart after conviction. “It would appear that the accused sees himself as the unfortunate victim of the circumstances which landed him in the present disaster of being convicted” the judge said.

He added that he was not convinced the accused’s remorse is sincere. According to Judge Liebenberg, the crimes committed were not only serious, but prevalent throughout Namibia.

“The unlawful attack on innocent and vulnerable persons in society continues unabated. These assaults are often executed in the most horrifying and brutal manners imaginable, during which fundamental rights are simply swept aside as if unimportant or non-existent,” he observed.

Liebenberg went on to say those were the circumstances present where the accused, for reasons unknown to the court, overwhelmed his much weaker and defenceless victim and thereafter made himself guilty of an offence that only be described as senseless.

An aggravating feature was that a knife was used in the attack during which injuries were inflicted on both hands of the deceased, probably when defending herself against her attacker, Judge Liebenberg remarked.
Although the injuries did not as such contribute to the cause of death they were evidence of the viciousness of the assault, which was equally manifested in the manual strangulation of the deceased, he said.

“Whether the accused in the process made use of a belt to strangle the deceased with or used his bare hands, in my view, does not detract from the cruelty exhibited by the accused during the commission of the offence,” the judge found.

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