Windhoek-Judge Christi Liebenberg of the Windhoek High Court last Thursday convicted a Keetmanshoop resident on a charge of murder – read with the provisions of the Combating of Domestic Violence Act – for killing his girlfriend by stabbing her at least eight times with a knife.
Judge Liebenberg ruled that Andrew Britz, 59, acted with the direct intent to kill Juliana Sarvanda Garises, 44, when he directed five of the stabs, of which one proved fatal, at the upper body of the deceased.
Britz pleaded not guilty to the charge when his trial started last week and claimed he was not present when the killing of Garises took place.
At the trial, the prosecution presented evidence that Britz came looking for Garises at the room Garises shared with another woman, Christellah Minnie, but Minnie told him Garises was not there.
He then left and returned a while later in the company of Garises The deceased went to lay down on the bed next to Minnie, and the accused entered and wanted to kiss Gariseb, but she rejected his advances saying she did not love him anymore and that he must leave her alone.
Britz then told Gariseb if he could not have her nobody else would because she belonged to him, whereupon he stood up and fetched a knife from the cutlery drawer.
He then proceeded to stab her several times before he ran away. The deceased then asked another witness, Eveline Hartung, to call the police because she was bleeding.
However, Hartung said she did not have airtime and Minnie then went to collect a candle but they found the deceased was no longer breathing.
While the accused denied being present when the murder took place, the judge said there was corroborating evidence that placed him at the scene of the crime and evidence about him stabbing the deceased.
He said that none of the State witnesses who implicated the accused as the perpetrator were discredited during cross-examination, and neither was there proof of these witnesses having jointly concocted their respective versions to falsely implicate the accused, as the accused wanted the court to believe.
“As for the accused, though admitting having been with the deceased shortly before the incident that ended her life, he distanced himself from the offence claiming an alibi i.e. that he was at home at the relevant time.
“There is no duty on the accused to prove his alibi, and if it is reasonably true, then he must be acquitted. The alibi must further not be considered in isolation, but in the light of the totality of the evidence.
“When the court is faced with an alibi that is false, the effect thereof on the accused’s case is that it places him in a position as if he had never testified at all.
“The giving of a false alibi in circumstances where there is direct evidence of the commission of the offence, it tends to strengthen the direct evidence against him as there is no evidence gainsaying it,” Judge Liebenberg stated.
The adequacy of proof in a criminal case was whether the evidence established the guilt of the accused beyond a reasonable doubt.
If there was a reasonable possibility that the accused’s innocent explanation or alibi, which he had proffered, might be true then he was entitled to be acquitted.
The judge said that in this case the evidence proved that there was no possibility that the version of Britz might be true and the court therefore rejected it as false.
Judge Liebenberg ruled that evidence had duly established that it was Britz who stabbed the deceased and that he had a direct intention to kill with his unlawful act.
Jan Wessels who represented Britz on the instructions of Legal Aid yesterday made submissions on the sentence to be imposed.
Wessels asked the court to be lenient and to show mercy while state advocate Hesekiel Ipinge informed the court that Britz had a long list of previous convictions, all involving violence and knives, and was therefore a danger to society.