19 years in jail for defending wife's honour

11 Oct 2014 18:20pm
KEETMANSHOOP, 11 OCT (NAMPA) – A man’s intent to defend his wife’s honour led to him receiving a 19-year jail sentence on a guilty verdict of murder with direct intent to kill.
On 15 September 2007, the tranquil town of Oranjemund was shaken upon news that a local resident, Albertus van Wyk, 41, had killed fellow resident, Taleninawa Willams by stabbing him 13 times.
Van Wyk’s wife, Claudine, 33, was found guilty of assault, after having directed a brick towards the deceased on the night of the murder. She received a fine of N.dollars 3 000.
The couple, who has been married for 12 years, appeared together before Magistrate Sunsley Zisengwe in the Keetmanshoop Regional Court on Friday.
Upon hearing the sentences, both accused were visibly overcome with emotions - the wife started crying. The couple consoled one another, before the husband was taken from the courtroom for incarceration.
In sentencing, Zisengwe said that apart from society’s interests, justice had to be served for the anguish, loss of love, companionship and financial support the wife and children of the deceased suffered since his death.
The story that unfolded during the course of the trial and which the magistrate summarised was that on the day of the incident, the two accused and their children, now 12 and 8 respectively, were socialising and celebrating the birthday of a relative.
The Van Wyk couple were drinking steadily throughout the day. Later, the couple went to a bar with their children and continued to converse with people outside in their car.
At some point, Claudine went into the bar to play a game of pool, where she encountered Williams with whom she had an exchange of words. Williams was seen hitting her with a pool stick and attacking her with a chair. He purportedly also broke a bottle with which he pursued Claudine.
He later left the bar and drove home.
Meanwhile, Claudine informed her husband about the assault. Albertus called a friend to join them in finding Williams and they drove to his house. This witness later testified against the couple.
They found Williams in front of his house, still seated in a car. Albertus approached him and insisted to know why he insulted his wife.
The flippant response which drove Albertus over the edge was: “What do you want to do about it”.
Magistrate Zisengwe told the accused that he went completely overboard with violence in response to this provocation.
“You callously murdered the victim in front of your children who were in the car and who were no more than toddlers at the time,” he said.
Williams managed to get out of the car and run across the street. Albertus followed him and stabbed him further. Claudine then picked up a brick and threw it towards the victim.
The couple returned to the car and drove to a bar where they bought more beer, while Williams ran to a house for help. He later died.
The case dragged on for seven years during which time the accused were out on bail.
Initially, they insisted that they were innocent, and only changed their plea to guilty after witnesses were called to testify.
The couple never took the stand for questioning or to plead in mitigation.
Instead, the defence called Salome Stumpfe, a sister to Albertus, as a character witness. She spoke glowingly of her brother, describing him as a morally upright person, a Christian who from a young age was a leader and an example to their church community and larger family.
She could not reconcile the person who committed this heinous crime with the sensitive, polite and peaceful brother she knew, said Stumpfe.
The magistrate said: “Based on the facts in front of the court and the actions of the accused on that day and afterwards, it makes it hard to believe that these could be the actions of a peaceful person”.
The State was represented by Filistas Shikerete-Vendura, while Braam Cupido represented Albertus, and Stefan Coetzee represented Claudine.