New Era Newspaper

New Era Epaper
Icon Collap
Home / Farmworkers plead not guilty to gruesome murder

Farmworkers plead not guilty to gruesome murder

2023-12-05  Roland Routh

Farmworkers plead not guilty to gruesome murder

Two farmworkers accused of murdering their employers and setting the farmhouse on fire in January 2018, pleaded not guilty to all charges yesterday before Windhoek High Court Judge Naomi Shivute.

 Bernadus Afrikaner (35) and Salathiel Unaeb (47) are accused of murdering Armin Siegfried Riedel (68) and his wife Brunhild Riedel (66) on 20 January 2018.

They allegedly burned the couple’s farmhouse to the ground, causing damage of more than N$500 000, after robbing the residence. After State advocate Ethel Ndlovu read out the charges, Afrikaner and Unaeb answered not guilty to each count through a Damara/Nama interpreter. Their Legal Aid-funded lawyer, Melissa Windisch from the Pack and Company Incorporated law firm, confirmed that the pleas are in accordance with her instructions. She also informed the court that her clients will remain silent, and put the onus on the State to prove each allegation against them. 

Afrikaner and Unaeb are facing two counts of murder, two counts of rape, one count of robbery with aggravating circumstances, one count of arson, one count of defeating the course of justice, three counts of contravening the Arms and Ammunition Act, and one count of assault by threat.

It is alleged by the State that they overpowered the couple on their farm Grunfeld in the Gobabis district, and murdered them. They allegedly killed Brunhild outside the house in an unknown manner, whereafter they shot Armin in the head, causing his death. After ransacking the house and robbing several items, they set the residence on fire with the bodies of the deceased inside, making the cause of death almost impossible to detect. 

At first, it was suspected that the deaths were a result of an unfortunate fire. But further investigations led to the arrest of the two accused persons some seven months after the incident. The indictment states that the accused were employed at the farm, and also resided there. 

They allegedly stole various properties, including a pistol, knives, bedding and a washing basin. 

The contravention of the Arms and Ammunition Act charges relate to them being in possession of a firearm and ammunition without a licence, and for selling a firearm to another person without a licence.  The assault charge relates to the threat they allegedly made to a fellow employee who witnessed part of the attack not to reveal what he saw. 

Yesterday, Dr Simasiku Kabanje, the pathologist who conducted the post- mortem examinations on the deceased, testified that both deceased were dead when the fire was started. 

He deduced this from the lack of soot in the airways of the deceased. He, however, said the deceased were burned beyond recognition, and confirmed the cause of death as gunshot injuries to the man’s head.  The matter continues tomorrow, and the accused remain in custody. -   

2023-12-05  Roland Routh

Share on social media