“The prevalence of the offence of murder – and, in particular, killing of vulnerable babies – is indicative of a morally-bankrupt society, where parents fail to take their responsibilities.”
This was said by Oshakati High Court Judge Eduard Kesslau when he sentenced 29-year-old Hilde Tshekupe Iita to an effective 17 years imprisonment this week.
Iita was convicted on her own admission of murder, read with the provisions of the Combating of Domestic Violence Act for killing her newborn son by feeding him methylated spirits and later burning his body in a mahangu
She was charged with one count of murder and one count of defeating the ends of justice for burning the body of the infant.
In a statement she gave to the court,
she gave birth on 12 March 2020 to a baby boy in the Oshakati Intermediate Hospital and was discharged the following day.
“I fed the baby methylated spirit because I intended to kill my baby boy. I killed him because my breast did not produce milk and the child was crying too much,” she said in a statement read to the court.
On 14 March 2020, Iita wrapped the corpse in a blanket and placed it in a bag. She then took a lift to her village, Okeendapa, in the district of Okahao, Omusati region.
At around 18h00 the same day, she set the corpse on fire in the mahangu field in an attempt to destroy the body so that nobody could find out about it.
According to her statement, some parts did not burn completely, so she removed those parts and threw them in the grass near the mahangu field.
According to Judge Kesslau, the interest of society requires that the accused be punished for her actions.
“The victim was a day-old baby and, thus, a member of the vulnerable part of society,” the judge stated.
Further, he said, murder was committed as revenge on the father, who disputed his responsibility.
“The accused killed the deceased without making any attempt to get assistance from her family for support. Whilst killing her baby, she acted in a calculated manner and had time to rethink her actions. The corpse of the deceased was, thereafter, violated when the accused tried to hide her despicable deed,” the judge stressed.
He went on to say: “Considering that the crime was calculated, committed against her own child and without sacrificing the accused on the altar of deterrence, I am of the view that a custodial sentence is appropriate and that a partially suspended sentence is needed to prevent the accused from re-offending”.
In addition, the judge said, the crimes were committed in close proximity to one another, with the murder leading to
the need for committing the second offence.
For that reason, and to extend a hand of mercy to the accused, the sentences will be ordered to run concurrently.
He sentenced Iita to 22 years on the murder charge, with five years suspended on normal conditions and 12 months on the defeating charge, leaving her with leave her with an effective jail term of 17 years.
The state was represented by
advocate Martha Hasheela and Iita by Legal Aid lawyer Petrus Grusshaber.