A stoic-looking Rodney Danne Shaningua, 46, dressed in his customary dark suit and tie, fought back tears yesterday when he heard Judge Christi Liebenberg sentence him to 24 years behind bars in the Windhoek High Court on a charge of murder with intent.
He was also sentenced to four years for the conviction on the attempt to defeat the course of justice, but that sentence was ordered to run concurrently with the murder sentence.
Shaningua was convicted by Judge Liebenberg on August 14 on a charge of murder with intent – and not of murder with direct intent – as for his role in the death of Marko Kristian Uolevi Ronni, 42, at around shortly after midnight on August 8 to 9 last year.
The two types of murder conviction are different in that murder with intent means that an accused should have foreseen his actions might lead to the death of someone, while murder with direct intent is when an accused directly intended to kill a person.
Ronni died in a hail of bullets after he rammed into the rear of the car Shaningua was sitting in along Bell Street in the Southern Industrial area, in what the judge described as an act of “road rage’’ that went awry.
According to Liebenberg, while it was not the intention of Shaningua to kill Ronni, it was wholly unacceptable that such a person, even if he is the cause of such collision, can be executed at the scene by the other driver.
He said that each and every person who drives a vehicle can expect to be involved in a collision at some or other time. While the murder was not premeditated, the judge said it was cold-blooded and unnecessary and society is outraged when a crime of this nature is committed.
The judge went on to say even where an accused’s personal circumstances are extremely favourable the court must yield to society’s legitimate demand that its members be entitled to drive the roads without fear of being murdered by other irate drivers.
With regard to Shaningua’s undertaking to financially support the three children of his victim, the judge remarked that however noble and sincere the undertaking might be, care must be taken not to create the impression that the wrongdoer can be ordered to pay fines to the aggrieved party; nor should society be brought under the impression that a rich man can use his relative wealth to obtain for himself a lesser sentence of imprisonment than that which a poorer man would receive in the same circumstances.
The judge further said the verdict on the lesser count should not be seen as mitigating, but as a matter of fact his continued reckless shooting in the body of the deceased’s vehicle increased his moral blameworthiness.
“Nothing justified the accused to resort to his firearm in order to stop the deceased from departing the scene,” Judge Liebenberg stressed. In the present circumstances, he found, it was necessary to send a deterrent message to the wider society that conduct, as demonstrated by the accused will not and should not be tolerated and therefore the imposition of a sentence of long-term imprisonment was inevitable.
The judge also declared the firearm used forfeited to State and ordered Shaningua not fit to possess a firearm for five years after his release from prison. Deputy Prosecutor General Karin Esterhuysen appeared for the State and Shaningua was represented by Advocate Slysken Makando.
Caption (Pic: Shaningua sentence):
Photo: Roland Routh