Young man to spend 35 years in jail for murdering pregnant girlfriend

05 Nov 2015 16:40pm


A young man who admitted killing his pregnant girlfriend during a quarrel in October 2013 at the Maltahohe village in the Hardap Region, was on Thursday sent to jail for 35 years.

The 23-year-old Isaack van der Westhuizen admitted killing Frieda Swartbooi, 33, by stabbing her about 14 times and slitting her throat with a kitchen knife on the evening of 31 October 2013.

Delivering sentence in the Windhoek High Court on Thursday, High Court Judge Christie Liebenberg said Van der Westhuizen was fully aware of what he was doing and the fact that the deceased was expecting his child was an aggravating factor in her murder.

"The deceased person was between six and seven months pregnant at the time of her death and this offence was committed in a domestic setting. The convict fully knew that the deceased person was expecting his child and her pregnancy is an aggravating factor in this matter. The gravity of this murder offence and the legitimate interests of the society completely outweigh the interests of the convicted person. You brutally stabbed the deceased person to death before you committed an unsuccessful suicide. Therefore, an appropriate punishment in this case is a long custodial sentence."

The young man is currently serving a sentence of two years imprisonment imposed on him in March 2015 arising from a separate incident during which he had assaulted, with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, someone who had come to the assistance of the deceased at the time of their relationship.

State witnesses told the court during trial that the two lovers' relationship was marred by a history of violence and alcohol abuse. "On the day of the incident, I went to the deceased person's place. The deceased person told me that she wanted to terminate or end the relationship with me. A quarrel erupted between me and my girlfriend. I, thereafter, went out of her room and went to the kitchen where I picked up a knife. I came back to her room and stabbed her several times on the throat and neck. After I realised that she was dead, I used the same knife and stabbed myself around the throat and neck in an unsuccessful attempt to commit suicide," Van der Westhuizen told the court when he entered a plea of guilty on 23 September 2015.

He also said the guilty plea 'is a token of my genuine remorse to my wrong-doing that led to the death of the deceased person'. Deputy Prosecutor-General, Antonia Verhoef led the prosecution's case during trial while State-sponsored defence lawyer, Titus Mbaeva appeared for the jailed young man.

The trial was being dealt with by the court in terms of the provisions of the Combating of Domestic Violence Act of 2003. Evidence presented during trial had it that Van der Westhuizen had killed his girlfriend six days after the Mariental Magistrate's Court ordered him to either spend five months in prison or pay a fine of N.dollars 800 for assaulting her.

He paid the fine, was released and went to kill the deceased person while free on bail. Van der Westhuizen will serve his stiff prison term at the Windhoek Correctional Facility.