Murder convict maintains innocence

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Roland Routh

Windhoek-The man convicted this week of killing the mother of his 11-month-old son maintained that he was wrongly convicted of the heinous crime and refused to apologise to the family of the deceased in the Windhoek High Court at the Windhoek Correctional Facility.

Eben Cloete, 30, told his state-funded lawyer, Milton Engelbrecht, yesterday during his evidence in mitigation that he could not see the need to apologise or ask for forgiveness, because he did not kill the deceased, Anna Nadia Coetzee.

“I am heartbroken that I was found guilty of a crime I did not commit,” Cloete said in response to a question about he felt about the death of the deceased.

He further told Judge Dinah Usiku that he was 22 years old at the time of her death and has a 10-year-old daughter and an eight-year-old son from different mothers. The boy is the son of him and the deceased.

He was convicted by Judge Usiku in July on a charge of housebreaking with intent to murder and murder with direct intent over the stabbing to death of Anna Nadia Coetzee at her father’s house at Neudamm Experimental Farm on August 13, 2009.

The judge found that he was the person that broke into her bedroom and stabbed her eight times with a knife with the intention to murder her.

Engelbrecht submitted in mitigation that although society expects perpetrators of serious crimes to be punished, it did not expect the punishment to destroy the offender.

He said the court should take the relative young age (22) of Cloete in consideration, as well as the time he spent in custody waiting for his trial. He asked the court to blend the sentence with mercy and to sentence Cloete to a period less than 30 years.

However, State Advocate Palmer Khumalo sang a different tune. According to him, the brutality of the murder and the fact that Cloete planned to murder the deceased in cold blood puts his moral blameworthiness far beyond the average.

Khumalo told the court even his own parents were so worried about his conduct that they went to the extent to warn the deceased and her father about his intentions. He said the accused showed his determination to end the life of the deceased by breaking into her room – a place she should have been safe – to carry out the threat he made that very morning.

During testimony it emerged that Cloete indeed made a threatening remark the morning before the incident.
According to Khumalo, the High Court has in previous cases of murder in a context of domestic violence decried the scourge of violent crimes and vowed it would not be tolerated. He said continuously increased sentences do not seem to deter perpetrators of such crimes and the only response from the court should be more and more increased sentences.

According to Khumalo, the fact that Cloete followed the deceased into her bedroom to kill her aggravates the offence and calls for a “most severe sentence”. What makes matters worse, Khumalo said, was that he stabbed her in the presence of her 11-month-old baby and left the baby there to crawl in his mother’s blood, which he said was “revolting”.

Khumalo said the only way to show the revulsion the courts and society feel for such barbaric acts is to sentence Cloete to a prison term of between 45 and 50 years. Judge Usiku said she will deliver her sentence on January 30 next year. Cloete remains in custody.

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