Convict wants to appeal punishment for killing

16 Jul 2014 15:30pm
WINDHOEK, 16 JUL (NAMPA) - A ruling on an application for leave to appeal a 45-year prison term imposed on 34-year-old Gabriel Johannes Petrus for murder, will be made public here in three weeks' time.
Petrus admitted killing his ex-girlfriend, Polytechnic of Namibia student Elizabeth Tuwilika Ekandjo, at the start of his trial in the Windhoek High Court on 09 June 2014, and was jailed on 21 June this year.
On the count of killing Ekandjo, Petrus was sentenced to 45 years’ imprisonment.
He was also sentenced to five years’ imprisonment on the second count of having kidnapped Erica Embashu, who shared a room with the late Ekandjo at the time of the incident.
It was ordered that the sentence imposed in the murder count run consecutively with the punishment imposed in the kidnapping charge, meaning he got an effective 50 years.
Petrus, through his defence lawyer Sisa Namandje, approached the Windhoek High Court on Wednesday morning with an urgent application to be allowed leave to appeal the prison sentence of 45 years.
A verdict on this appeal application will be handed down by High Court judge Alfred Siboleka on 05 August this year at 09h00, who listened this morning to oral submissions and counter-arguments by both the appellant's defence lawyer and prosecution’s representative, State Advocate Ethel Ndlovu.
In the application, Petrus is asking the Windhoek High Court to be allowed leave to appeal the 45-year-prison term in the Windhoek Supreme Court.
Petrus said he feels that there was some misdirection by the High Court judge at the time of sentencing.
He said the Windhoek Supreme Court may come up with a different sentence, once he is allowed such leave.
In his submissions, Namandje said his client wants another court to relook the totality of the evidence presented for sentencing.
“My client will be released from prison as a pensioner at the age of 84. We are not saying that we will succeed in the Windhoek Supreme Court, but we want that court to relook the evidence of sentencing,” said the defence lawyer.
Meanwhile, Ndlovu said Petrus' application does not meet the standard requirements for him to be allowed leave to appeal his sentence.
She then asked the judge to dismiss the appeal application because the brutal manner in which the offence was committed, fits the sentence handed down by the court.
At the start of the trial in June this year, Petrus admitted to every element as contained in the count of murder, but denied the charge of having kidnapped Embashu.
In a guilty plea explanation presented to court in terms of Section 112 of the Criminal Procedures’ Act, Petrus informed Judge Siboleka that he tendered this guilty plea to the count of murder voluntarily, and without any influence from any person.
He told the court that he was fully aware of the consequences of his plea, and expects the court to hand down heavy punishment as a result.
Petrus further admitted that the late Ekandjo died of strangulation as indicated in the medical report of her post-mortem examination.
This report was also handed in and accepted as evidence before court.
Evidence presented by the State during the trial had it that Ekandjo died in the early morning hours of 06 June 2012 when she was strangled to death with a tie by her ex-boyfriend.
The 22-year-old woman was a fourth-year Information Technology student at the Polytechnic of Namibia at the time of her death.
The murder incident took place in Windhoek's Khomasdal area between 02h00 and 04h00 on 26 January 2012.
The Namibian Police Force (NamPol) at the time said Petrus apparently entered the deceased's room through a window and threatened Embashu, who was also a student at the same institution, saying she should hide in a wardrobe before he went on to strangle the deceased.
It also came to light during the trial that Ekandjo and Petrus had some differences, and Ekandjo had tried to end the relationship.
Petrus, however, did not want to accept that the relationship was over.
He was arrested by members of NamPol's Serious Crime Unit on the same day.
The late Ekandjo had been studying with a Telecom bursary, and in 2010 won the award for being the best student in her department.