WINDHOEK – Defence lawyer Milton Engelbrecht scored some vital points for his client when he got the doctor who performed the autopsy on a woman who was allegedly murdered and left in a zinc shack to rot to conceal the body that could have been in the shack for two days.
This is contrary to the post mortem report that initially indicated the victim’s body was in the shack for four days.
Dr Mamadi Guriras, a forensic medical officer attached to the Windhoek Central Hospital testified she used standard scientific measures to determine that the remains of Getrud Vaanda Tjihuiko were left in a shack for three to four days after she was murdered.
This she said was determined because of the state of decomposition the body was in and the fly activity on and around the body as well as the level of petrification. However, during cross-examination by Engelbrecht, she said as she did not know the temperature and the conditions the body was exposed to, it is possible the body could have been in the shack for two days as the method to determine decomposition and petrification is not an exact science.
Guriras was testifying in the murder trial of Elvis Mieze, 44, who is charged with murder and defeating the course of justice.
According to the State, he murdered Tjihuiko who was his live-in girlfriend, during September 23 to 30, 2016 in Herero location in Windhoek and hid the body in his shack for several days.
Mieze denied guilt on the charges on Tuesday and made use of his right to remain silent and put the burden on the State to prove each and every allegation against him. It however merged through cross-examination of State witnesses that Mieze is claiming the deceased stabbed herself in the heart when she fell onto a knife she had in her hands during a quarrel between them. According to Engelbrecht, his client claims during the morning of September 28, 2016 he and the deceased were quarrelling when she grabbed a knife she had wanted to stab him.
In an effort to defend himself he pushed the deceased away and she fell onto the knife onto the bed and in the process stabbed herself. The body was discovered the next day, he said. According to him, Mieze denies he hid the body in the shack for several days as is alleged by the State, resulting in the defeating or obstructing the course of justice allegation.
Yesterday, Constancia Katupombo, an aunt of the accused testified that on Thursday evening before the gruesome discovery was made, she and some of her other relatives were sitting outside the house talking and picked up a rotten smell.
According to her, Mieze then came to where they were and told them that the deceased had relieved herself in a bucket in their room and he emptied the bucket in the dustbin which is where the smell is emanating from. However, she said, the next day at around 16h00 when she woke up from her nap, her niece came to her and told her the smell is getting stronger.
She said they investigated where the smell was coming from but could not locate its source. The witness continued her elder brother then arrived at the house with his wife and after he was informed of the stench, he ordered that the accused should be fetched to open his shack which was locked. When the accused arrived, however, he and the elder went behind the house to talk and the elder returned and told them not to be scared and to keep the children away. She further said the elder child told them the accused had confessed to him that he stabbed the deceased and that her body was in the shack.
The trial continues today and Mieze remains in custody at the Windhoek Correctional Facility’s section for trial awaiting inmates.
Deputy Prosecutor General Karin Esterhuizen is appearing on behalf of the State.