Mitigation in Okakarara gang-rape case set for Thursday

29 Jan 2014 10:30am
WINDHOEK, 29 JAN (NAMPA) - Evidence in mitigation and aggravation of sentencing in the trial of four young men convicted of raping a teenage girl at a school in Okakarara during May 2008, will be heard in the Windhoek High Court on Thursday.
The four young men - Uazenga Tjamuaha, 20; Johnson Matundu, 21; Kahijambua Kamuingona, 21; and 20-year-old Utjatae Mureti - were all found guilty as charged in a judgement handed down by High Court Judge Nate Ndauendapo on 15 August 2013.
The submissions by both the prosecution representative and the convicted youngsters' defence lawyers will run until Friday this week, after which a date for sentencing will be set.
The case was remanded on 15 August last year until 30 January this year upon agreement reached between Deputy Prosecutor-General Karin-Ann Esterhuizen and Government-sponsored defence lawyers Titus Mbaeva, Monty Karuaihe, Brownell Uirab and Edwin Coetzee.
In the matter, the four young men were convicted of 20 counts of rape, which are being dealt with under the provisions of the Combating of Rape Act of 2000, which provisions warrant a heavy custodial term in case of conviction.
The young men and the then 15-year-old complainant were all learners at the Okakarara Secondary School at the time of the incident.
They were all accommodated at a hostel at that school 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,” said the judge as he found the four young men guilty as charged at the time.
Meanwhile, the youngsters' State-sponsored defence lawyers have unsuccessfully asked the court for the acquittal of their clients.
State representative Esterhuizen said in her submissions against the acquittal that all four accused persons had taken turns to rape the complainant, and must thus be found guilty as charged.
During the trial, the four young men 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 all of the 20 rape charges against them at the start of the trial.
Although they were all found guilty as charged, they were again placed in the care of their respective parents as per agreement reached by their defence lawyers and the prosecution.
They were, however, seriously warned to return to court on 30 and 31 January 2014 to hear submissions of evidence of mitigation and aggravation of sentencing.
The four defence lawyers are representing the convicts on the instructions of the Justice Ministry's Directorate of Legal Aid.