WINDHOEK – Windhoek High Court Judge Nate Ndauendapo became the sixth judge to impose a life sentence on a murder convict, when he sentenced former security guard Moses Ndiiweda Puleni, 32, to life imprisonment.
Puleni dubbed “the Katutura strangler” was convicted by Judge Ndauendapo of murder, rape and theft in February this year after a trial that lasted six years. Puleni has been in custody since his arrest in early January 2012.
Puleni was initially charged with robbery with aggravating circumstances, but the judge found that he could not have robbed the victim since she was already dead when he stole the items in question, thus he could only be convicted of theft.
He was convicted of the rape and manual strangulation of a bar lady where he was working as a security guard in Albert Conradie Street in Katutura.
He was charged with raping 18-year-old Paulina Nghidinitango who worked as a bar lady at the same premises he was employed as a security guard, then strangled her to death before robbing the bar of about N$55 000, some alcohol, recharge vouchers and two cellphones.
He denied all charges at the start of his trial and further denied a confession he made to a magistrate shortly after his arrest.
Judge Ndauendapo however admitted the confession into evidence.
In his judgement, Ndauendapo found that although there were no eyewitnesses, there was overwhelming circumstantial evidence that Puleni was the one who raped and killed Nghidinitango.
According to the judge, the circumstantial evidence such as that the accused was the last person to be seen with the deceased on December 30 to 31, 2011, that when the body of the deceased was found, the accused was nowhere to be found, that the safe had a cut in it and the money was missing, that blood was found on the floor of the room of the accused and on his uniform, that he had some money on December 31, 2011, had a bite wound on his finger and marks on his neck is put in its place every other reasonable inference is excluded leaving only the inference that the deceased was raped and murdered by Puleni.
“The evidence against the accused was overwhelming and in my respectful view, the State proved beyond reasonable doubt that the accused committed the murder and rape of the deceased,” noted the judge.
He however said that on the charge of robbery with aggravating circumstances, he is not satisfied the State proved the guilt of Puleni.
“The accused confessed that he took the money, the alcohol, cellphone recharges and two cellphones after he murdered the deceased and no force was used when he took the money and other properties, therefore he can only be convicted of theft,” Judge Ndauendapo said before he convicted Puleni of murder, rape and theft.
During sentencing, Ndauendapo remarked there is no doubt that murder and rape are serious offences that call for severe punishment.
He said that violence against women and children has reached a crisis point and continues unabated despite the courts impose.
According to the judge, society is crying for the courts to impose severe sentences against those who commit crimes against women. The judge said, an innocent life has been cut short through a brutal, heartless act.
“The deceased was still young, only 18-years-old and she had a life ahead of her,” Judge Ndauendapo said before he sentenced Puleni to life imprisonment on the murder conviction, 10 years on the rape conviction, and three years on the theft conviction. All the sentences were ordered to run concurrently.
Puleni was represented by Mbanga Siyomunji on instructions from legal aid and State Advocate Dominic Lisulo prosecuted.