Windhoek-“On December 23, 2009 in Okuryangava, two innocent children were murdered in the most gruesome, vicious and brutal manner. Their throats were cut with a knife. The accused is the father of the children.”
These were the words of High Court Judge Nate Ndauendapo on Friday when passing judgement in the Windhoek High Court where he convicted Jonas Penduvanhu Shinana of double murder.
Shinana was convicted of the brutal slaying of 6-year-old Matheus Shinana and 4-year-old Emilia Naatye Shinana, during December 23-24, 2009 in Katutura.
He cut the throats of the minor children and afterwards attempted to commit suicide.
Shinana pleaded not guilty to all charges at the start of his trial in 2013. He claims he was strangled from behind and left unconscious while the throats of his two children were slit.
According to Judge Ndauendapo, the prosecution’s case was based on circumstantial evidence, as there were no eyewitnesses to the commission of the crimes, and where the court is required to draw inferences from circumstantial evidence, the two cardinal rules of logic should be followed.
The first is that the inference to be drawn must be consistent with all the facts and the proved facts must be such that they exclude every reasonable inference save the one to be drawn.
In the present instance, the judge said, he was satisfied that the only inference to be drawn was that it was Shinana who murdered his children.
“The only reasonable inference to be drawn from the proven facts is that the person who committed these gruesome murders must have been inside, and the only person inside was the accused,” the judge observed.
He added that Shinana’s defence that an intruder entered the shack and tried to strangle him and committed those murders is difficult to fathom. He asked how the intruder gained entry if the shack was padlocked from inside, and that once padlocked from inside one could not open it from outside, as was shown by the testimonies of the state witnesses.
He further asked why the intruder would, after committing the crimes, exit and padlock the shack. There were no windows, the judge stated, and asked where the so-called intruder had found the murder weapon.
He further wanted to know why the ‘intruder’ killed the children and not the accused, who was the target as was put to prosecution witnesses.
According to Judge Ndauendapo, it appeared from the evidence that the accused was a troubled soul during the days before the children were murdered. This, he said, was borne out by the testimony of Shinana’s brother, Johannes, who spoke about the accused crying, and walking around crying and threatening to do something that would make Rosalia (the mother of the children) hurt.
Johannes also told the court how he came upon Shinana with the same rope he used to attempt suicide.
Judge Ndauendapo said that Shinana was found unconscious with a piece of rope around his neck and another piece hanging from the roof of his shack.
A bloodstained knife, identified by Rosalia as one she used in the kitchen of Shinana’s shack, was found on the floor where the accused had been found lying, the judge said.
“The accused had bloodstains on his left hand, right index finger and left foot,” he stated.
Judge Ndauendapo said that from the proven facts the only reasonable inference to be drawn was that it was the accused who cut the throats of the children, and thereafter attempted to take his own life, but failed.
“In the circumstances, and having regard to the totality of the evidence, the court is satisfied that the accused is the one who murdered his children, and I do so find,” the judge concluded.