29 Mar 2014 10:40am
WINDHOEK, 29 MAR (NAMPA) Four young men convicted of gang-raping a teenage girl at the Okakarara Senior Secondary Schools hostel in May 2008 were all sentenced to varying custodial terms here on Friday morning.
The sentences of the four - Johnson Matundu, 23; Uazenga Tjamuaha, 21; Kahijambua Kamuingona, 22; and the 22-year-old Utjatae Mureti were handed down by High Court Judge Nate Ndauendapo after he found them guilty as charged in a judgement handed down on 15 August last year.
Matundu and Tjamuaha were both sent to jail for an effective eight years on six counts of rape each.
Kamuingona and Mureti were each sentenced to an effective total of seven years imprisonment each, both on four counts of rape.
The four were thus convicted of a total 20 counts of rape that have been dealt with under the provisions of the Combating of Rape Act of 2000 which warrants a heavy custodial term in case of conviction.
Women and girls in general have been suffering sexual abuse at the hands of men for a long period of time in this country now, and they do expect the Namibian courts to hand down stiff sentences in cases of sexual violence in order to help deter other would-be-offenders from committing similar offences.
The victim was defenceless at the hands of the four convicted persons and she was traumatised as her dignity and womanhood have been badly violated by the four young men, the presiding Judge said as he handed down the sentences.
He also said they did not show any remorse for their wrong-doings during the whole trial and displayed a sense of arrogance before court.
Therefore, in my opinion, long custodial terms would be appropriate punishment in this matter, Ndauendapo stated.
The convicted young men's Government-sponsored defence lawyers - Titus Mbaeva, Monty Karuaihe, Brownell Uirab and Edwin Coetzee - wanted the court to impose wholly-suspended sentences in the matter.
State representative, Deputy Prosecutor-General Karin-Ann Esterhuizen asked the court to impose custodial terms.
The four and the then 15-year-old complainant were all learners at the Okakarara Secondary School at the time of the incident.
They stayed at the schools hostel at the time of the incident, the court heard during the trial.
The complainant knew all four accused persons well. The complainant has provided the court with detailed evidence on how the accused persons assisted each other, and took turns to rape her.
She told the court the truth, and her evidence was credible. In the result, I am satisfied that the State proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt that the four accused persons had indeed sexually violated the teenage girl on 23 May 2008, the Judge said as he found the four young men guilty as charged on 15 August 2013.
Meanwhile, the youngsters' State-sponsored defence lawyers also unsuccessfully asked the court for the acquittal of their clients at the closing of the State's case last year.
During the trial, the four claimed that they had consensual intercourse with the complainant, and that she was the one who initiated the sexual encounter on that day.
According to a summary of substantial facts contained in the charge-sheet, the complainant and some of her friends were on their way to get food when two of the accused persons allegedly stopped her on 23 May 2008, after which her friends proceeded without her.
The first two accused persons dragged the complainant to a nearby toilet, where they took turns to rape her, while one of them held her down.
After the first two young men had finished raping her, they left the complainant crying in the toilet.
She then started to walk to the hostel, still crying, when she was called by the other two accused persons, who then also took turns to rape her.
All four young men pleaded not guilty to the 20 rape charges against them at the start of the trial last year.
The four defence lawyers represented the convicts on the instructions of the Justice Ministry's Directorate of Legal Aid.