Life sentence for Keetmanshoop murderer

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Roland Routh

Windhoek-‘’Bearing in mind the accused’s violent history and his complete disregard or lack of respect for the lives of others, I have come to the conclusion that the imposition of life imprisonment, in the present circumstances, is appropriate,” High Court Judge Christi Liebenberg said when he sent Keetmanshoop resident, Andrew Britz, 59, to prison for the rest of his life.

Judge Liebenberg convicted Britz on a charge of murder read with the provisions of the Domestic Violence Act, on November 17, for the stabbing to death of Juliana Sarvanda Garises, 44, for daring to leave him for another man.
According to testimony heard during the trial, Britz told Garises before he stabbed her that if he could not have her, he would see to it that nobody else would. This was when she told him she did not love him anymore and wanted to get back with her former boyfriend.

Britz has a spate of prior convictions stretching over a period of 22 years, ranging from murder to attempted murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances, assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, assault, malicious damage to property and crimen injuria.

According to Judge Liebenberg, the accused did not learn from his previous mistakes and periods of incarceration.
“In my view, the accused’s criminal record, already from a youthful age up to the incident that brought him before this court, paints a picture of the type of person the court is dealing with. First and foremost, it shows that the accused has a tendency to commit violent crimes and readily resorts to the use of a deadly weapon (knife) to exert himself on others,” the judge said, and continued: “Besides convictions of attempting to cause serious bodily harm, or murder some of his victims, he succeeded on two occasions. That the accused has little respect for the sanctity of human life is evident from past behaviour. It further shows that the accused, despite having already served a lengthy custodial sentence, was not deterred by his earlier experience, as he thereafter twice made himself guilty of attempted murder, having used a knife – the first incident within six years and during the period he was still supposed to serve his sentence.”

According to the judge, murder falls in the category of very serious crime, moreover when committed in a domestic setting. The accused and deceased were in an intimate relationship for a relatively short time and when, on that fateful night, she told him she no longer loved him as she fancied her former boyfriend, the accused’s immediate reaction was that, if he could not have her, then no one would.

He added that the accused’s immediate reaction upon hearing that the deceased wanted to end their relationship was to threaten to kill her, and when this did not bear the desired result, he carried out the threat.
The judge said that society, virtually on a daily basis through the media, is exposed to the most horrid of murders committed against the innocent and vulnerable, and despite the continued outcries against this unacceptable behaviour, the commission of the most despicable offences continues unabated.

“From society’s perspective it seems reasonable to accept, in the light of the gravity of the present offence, as well as the large number of serious crimes committed by the accused in the past, that the interest of society would best be served if society is protected against any further crimes the accused might commit in future – a prospect that appears to be a real likelihood,” Judge Liebenberg said, adding: “This would obviously require his removal from society to prevent a situation where he continues to be a danger.”

Britz was represented by Jan Wessels, instructed by legal aid, and the state by Deputy Prosecutor General Hesekiel Ipinge.

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