Windhoek High Court Judge Dinnah Usiku yesterday dismissed four out of 23 counts of rape, attempted murder and various assaults against alleged serial rapist, Gavin Gawanab and placed him on his defence on 19 counts.
Gawanab was facing 23 counts including rape of minors, attempted murder, assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, assault, attempted rape, alternatively indecent assault, kidnapping, housebreaking with intent to rape and rape as well as crimen injuria.
He pleaded not guilty to all charges at the start of his trial and put the onus on the State to prove every allegation against him.
At the end of the State’s case, his legal aid instructed lawyer Mbanga Siyomunji brought an application for dismissal of 12 of the charges he faces including the rape and mutilation of a then 10-year-old girl.
Siyomunji asked the court to dismiss Gawanab on two rape counts, one count of housebreaking with intent to rape and rape, three counts of attempted murder, four counts of assault, one count of robbery and one count of attempted rape.
In his arguments supporting his application, Siyomunji argued that none of the charges was proved by the State beyond a reasonable doubt and that his client is entitled to the benefit of the doubt. He further argued that none of the victims clearly identified the accused as the attacker, apart from vague descriptions of a light skinned man with tattoos. He also said that the lack of his DNA on the clothes or the person of the 10-year-old victim exonerates the accused.
Judge Usiku, however, found that several witnesses identified the accused, as he was known to them, as the person who met the victim and dragged her away from her friends. Further, she said, the accumulated evidence showing injuries and violence on her shows that she was the victim of a vicious attack and disproves the accused’s version that he did not meet the victim on that fateful day. In the end, she said, she is satisfied. As a result, she said, he has a case to answer to. With regards to the other charges, she said that Gawanab was positively identified as the culprit by several witnesses and he has a case to answer for. However, she said on the charges of assault where it is alleged that he stabbed two women with an arrow and robbed them of cash, rape one of them and tried to rape another, it was not established beyond a reasonable doubt that he was prima facie liable. She said that no evidence was presented to put the accused on his defence. According to her, the complainants were intoxicated and could not recall the events in clarity, which puts doubts on their evidence and as such she has no choice, but to afford him the benefit of doubt.
His crime spree of allegedly sexually assaulting under-aged girls started in December 2012 until he was arrested in November 2018 after he allegedly raped a 10-year-old girl and cut open her genitals.
He was on bail on the previous charges when he pounced on his latest victim.