Major setback for ‘Katutura strangler’

Home Crime and Courts Major setback for ‘Katutura strangler’


A confession and a pointing out made by the man dubbed “the Katutura strangler” for allegedly killing a barlady by strangulation was ruled admissible as evidence in the High Court on Wednesday.

Judge Nate Ndauendapo almost certainly dashed the hopes of Moses Ndiiweda Puleni, 30, for an acquittal when he ruled that a confession Puleni made to Magistrate Johannes Shuuveni at the Windhoek Magistrate’s Court in Katutura on January 5, 2012 can be used as evidence against him.

Judge Ndauendapo did not disclose his reasons for the ruling, but said it will be revealed at the time he delivers his verdict on the matter. Puleni is accused of the murder of 18-year-old Paulina Nghidinitango, whose naked body was found in a shebeen in Albert Conradie Street in Katutura on December 31, 2011 where he was employed as a security guard. Puleni disputed the confession and said he was unduly influenced to make the confession. He said he was never informed of his legal rights – neither by the magistrate nor by the police – when he made the disputed confession.Puleni also disputed a pointing out he made to the police shortly after his arrest when he allegedly showed them where he stashed almost N$20 000 in cash at his grandmother’s house in the north.

Puleni claimed during his testimony in the trial-within-a-trial that the money found at his grandmother’s house was proceeds from a claim he lodged with the Government Institutions Pension Fund (GIPF) after his father died.

An employee of GIPF yesterday testified that Puleni indeed received a payout from the Fund, following his father’s death. Hillka Mbako said Puleni received N$43 000 in August 2011.

According to Puleni, he was coerced into making the confession by threats of violence by the police officers assigned to investigate his case.

His State-funded lawyer, Mbanga Siyomunji, told the court during submissions on the trial-within-a-trial ruling that he has instructions that Puleni feared for his life if he did not do as the officers demanded.

Siyomunji told witnesses that he holds instructions from Puleni that the money he pointed out to the police was what he had saved from various jobs he had.

Also, during submissions State Advocate Dominic Lisulo asked the court to reject Puleni’s versions for what it is, outright fabrications. He said the police and the magistrate were forthcoming and truthful in their testimonies and had nothing to gain from deceiving the court.

On the other hand, the accused, he said, had everything to gain by lying to the court and his sudden claim about the money being the proceeds of a GIPF claim prove that.

According to him, Puleni’s sudden u-turn on the confession and pointing out is a desperate ploy to evade justice.
Siyomunji in turn argued that the court should not discard Puleni’s claims in general, but must look at the whole picture. He said his client is not well-versed in the judicial process and could not have understood his fundamental rights fully. He said it is the responsibility of any officer – whether of the court or law enforcement – to ensure an accused person fully understands their rights.

Puleni, who is still in custody, denied guilt on the charges of murder, rape and robbery with aggravating circumstances when his trial started in the Windhoek High Court more than a year ago.

It is alleged that Puleni and the deceased were together at the shebeen when he attacked her and bound her up with pieces of cable and/or wire, whereafter he allegedly raped and strangled her.