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Twenty-eight years for strangling girlfriend

2023-06-19  John Muyamba

Twenty-eight years for strangling girlfriend

A 33-year-old man who admitted that he strangled his police officer girlfriend and mother of his two young children to death in October 2021, was sentenced to an effective 28 years imprisonment last Wednesday by Windhoek High Court Christi Liebenberg.

Justus Mbirimujo admitted in April this year that he strangled Kauaa Karuuombe (29) on 21 October 2021 by strangling her in the house they shared in the city’s Otjomuise area. 

In its indictment, the State said Mbirimujo had been married to another woman from March 2015 until they were divorced in July 2021. He and Karuuombe were involved in a romantic relationship, and lived together on and off during the time he was married.

On 1 October 2021, Karuuombe got married to another man. 

The state is alleging that after she got married, Mbirimujo told people that her wedding was a problem to him, and not easy for him to deal with.

Although Mbirimujo apologised profusely to his children, the family of the deceased and Namibian society, especially women, the judge found his contrition was not sincere as he did not take the court fully into his confidence. 

Liebenberg said with regards to the guilty plea, a court must take it into consideration, but should not accord it much weight. He added that it is aggravating that the murder was committed in a domestic setting, as courts have in several judgements expressed concern about the prevalence of domestic violence, and that when it comes to punishment, will take into account the important needs of society to “root out the evil of domestic violence and violence against women”.  

“In this instance, the convict did not advance any reason as to the motive for the killing, besides stating in his plea explanation that he and the deceased had an argument on their way home, during which she swore at him and insulted him. When they reached home, a scuffle ensued, during which he pressed her down and strangled her to death,” the judge said.

“On his bare admissions, it seems incomprehensible what prompted such a drastic response, and what the actual reasons were for killing the deceased. Whatever it was, it could never justify the taking of another’s life.”  He further said society expects that persons in intimate relationships should not let their frustrations and emotions dictate their actions, especially not against the other person in the relationship. 

“This case is just another example of the senseless killings taking place within the family structure where the accused, for absolutely no reason, ended the life of his children’s mother, and virtually left them without parents,” the judge noted. 

Liebenberg said an inescapable consequence of Mbirimujo’s actions is that the deceased’s four minor children are robbed of the love and care of a mother, and, as for his own children, they, in addition, will be without a father for years to come. 

“One can only hope that somewhere in the future, he will get the opportunity to make it up to them,” the judge said. Regrettably, he said, this is one of the consequences of crime, and one cannot allow one’s sympathy for the family to deter one from imposing the kind of sentence dictated by the interests of justice and that of society.      

The judge said where the accused did not rely on provocation, it must be accepted that he did not feel incited, prompting the decision to kill the deceased, and as such, his reasons for killing the deceased remain his own. 

In the end, the judge added, a lengthy custodial sentence is unavoidable. 

Mbirimujo was represented by Enos Mwakondange on instructions of Legal Aid, and the State by deputy prosecutor general Antonia Verhoef.


2023-06-19  John Muyamba

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