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Links guilty of murder

2023-03-16  Roland Routh

Links guilty of murder

A man who poured petrol on his girlfriend and 13-month-old baby girl and set them alight on 1 January 2020, was convicted of murder with direct intent and attempted murder on Monday by Windhoek High Court Judge Christie Liebenberg.

Manfred Links (30), from Ariamsvlei in the Karasburg district, pleaded not guilty to the charges at the start of his trial. He claimed that Michelle Roelph caught on fire accidentally when he ignited a lighter he had in his hands after he doused her and the baby with petrol.

The judge made this off as a ridiculous afterthought.

Links was, however, acquitted on one charge of attempted murder after the State conceded that they could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he attempted to murder the deceased when he pulled her down on the ground after he set her alight. The judge said his version that he tried to extinguish the flames in that moment could be reasonably possibly true.

With regards to the murder charge, the judge said the admissions of Links that he poured petrol over the deceased, and that he ignited the lighter which caused the blaze, are indicative of his guilt. 

This, coupled with the concession by his lawyer Milton Engelbrecht that Links subjectively foresaw the possibility of death when he poured the petrol on the deceased and set her alight, and that he reconciled himself with that possibility, sustains the conviction, the judge stated. 

He further said the accused’s admissions to various State witnesses can lead to one inference only, and that is that Links intended to kill the deceased when he poured petrol on her and set her alight. Liebenberg found that the accused’s contention that he only poured petrol on a part of her body is completely contradicted by the extent of her injuries. 

Over 81% of her skin surface was burnt, the judge said, which signifies that the deceased was doused with a significant amount of petrol. This is illustrated by the fact that the greater part of her front upper body down to the legs sustained severe burn wounds. The judge said Links’ version is clearly false, and is rejected. With regards to
the charge that he attempted to kill his daughter when he doused her mother with petrol while the latter was holding the child, the judge said the same principles should apply as in the murder charge.  He wanted to know whether the baby was not exposed to the same danger as the mother. In fact, the judge said, the same principles apply when looking at the accused’s subjective intent when dousing the deceased with petrol and setting her alight. 

“Whereas the mother and child at that stage formed a unit, the accused’s intention undoubtedly included the baby who was physically connected to the deceased’s body,” Judge Liebenberg said.  “By indiscriminately pouring petrol over the deceased in these circumstances, it seems to me inevitable to come to the conclusion that the accused acted with direct intent to kill both mother and child”. In the end, the judge said, the accused is guilty of murder with direct intent and attempted murder, both read with the provisions of the Combating of Domestic Violence Act.

Links will return to court on 29 March when evidence in mitigation, and in aggravation of sentence, will be led.

The State is represented by Ian Malumani.


2023-03-16  Roland Routh

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