WINDHOEK – “The circumstances justify a sentence in excess of the mandatory sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment,” Judge Christi Liebenberg said before he sent Epafraditus Ndokotora Unengu to jail for 12 years and six months.
The 12 years are for the rape of a 21-year-old woman in the Nepara area of Nkurenkuru in Kavango West on July 09, 2011.
Unengu was at the time employed as a senior engineer by the Roads Authority (RA).
He was also sentenced to six months’ imprisonment for a conviction of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm in connection with the same incident.
While he was at first charged with attempted murder, the judge found that while Unengu did assault the complainant, it was with the intent to subdue her and not to kill her.
The judge found it plausible that after the rape Unengu physically assaulted the victim by punching her.
He was however pardoned on another charge of rape, and attempted murder, in an incident which took place in Windhoek on November 06, 2012.
In that instance the judge found the alleged victim discredited herself by giving contradicting testimony.
Unengu claimed he had consensual sex with his accusers.
In his judgment the judge noted he could not find any sign of remorse on the part of Unengu.
The fact that his legal representative, Sisa Namandje, informed the court from the bar that the “conviction has destroyed him (Unengu) and that he appreciates the fact that he has done bad to society and the complainant to whom he unreservedly apologises,” did not carry any weight.
The judge said the sincerity of remorse can only be determined when an accused takes the court into its full confidence and testifies to that effect.
In the present instance, the judge said, “until his conviction, the accused made no attempt to apologise to the complainant or her family and although he was under no obligation to do so, the accused’s belated repentance at the stage of sentencing is less convincing.”
He said Unengu throughout the trial exculpated himself by creating the impression the complainant merely “got what she was looking for, not only for accompanying him and his friends on that day, but also because on two occasions she took the initiative, culminating in them having sexual intercourse.”
According to the judge Unengu knew full well that this was a fabrication and far from the truth, but in any event put the complainant through a trial in which she not only had to relive her ordeal, but was subjected penetrating cross-examination.
He said it is not uncommon these days to find in cases of this nature lengthy custodial sentences becoming the norm to mark the gravity of the offence of rape and to give effect to society’s disapproval of such behaviour.
Judge Liebenberg emphasized that violent crimes such as murder, rape and serious assaults are on the increase and have reached alarming proportions despite serious warnings from the court that they will not be tolerated.
The circumstances in the present instance are indeed aggravating, the judge commented, and continued that the accused accepted payment to take the complainant to her village, but instead embarked on a drinking spree taking the complainant along against her will.
When the complainant asked to be refunded part of the money she paid for the lift he refused, virtually forcing her to remain with them, as she had no other means of transport.
He said he could not find evidence that the offence was premeditated prior to them departing from Olavi’s place where the complainant was offered a place to sleep which she refused.
However, he said, the accused’s wicked intentions were hatched once they left Olavi’s place and he abused the trust the complainant placed in him to see her home safely.
Advocate Dominic Lisulo appeared for the State.