Defence lawyer Jermaine Muchali has succeeded in getting his client off on a murder charge in the Windhoek Regional Court. Tshanda Donovan Rooi faced a charge of murder before Regional Magistrate Ingrid Unengu for the death of Petrus Stephanus Campbell on 3 April 2021. It was alleged by the prosecution that the accused stabbed the deceased once in the upper arm, which led to him dying from hypovolemic shock due to excessive blood loss.
Rooi pleaded not guilty to the charge. The two men allegedly got involved in an argument over wine, and this became physical. Rooi allegedly first threw Campbell in the head with a brick, causing him to bleed. Campbell then left, but returned to Rooi’s room, where he was stabbed. In his submissions, Muchali said none of the State witnesses at the scene saw the accused person with a knife after Campbell was stabbed, and the State did not prove that it was the accused who killed Campbell. Thus, Rooi had to be given the benefit of the doubt.
Also, Muchali said, the cause of death, although described as hypovolemic shock, was not definitively proved beyond a reasonable doubt. He reasoned that it is unclear whether the bleeding which led to the death of the deceased was from the wound on his upper arm, or from the headwound. Magistrate Unengu said it remains unclear whether the death was a result of the stabbing on the arm as described by the doctor who performed the autopsy, or as a result of hypovolemic shock as a result of bleeding as found by the attending doctor, and further, whether the loss of blood was due to the head injury or the stab wound on the arm.
The magistrate quoted High Court Judge Christi Liebenberg in the Madisia matter, where he said although a court in principle may convict an accused for murder in circumstances where the cause of death is undetermined, the elements of the offence must still be proved on whether causing the death of another person was unlawful and intentional. While the cause of death in this matter is uncertain, Unengu said, the principle remains the same.
“The fact of the matter is that there are two possible causes of death, and it will be improper for the court to choose between them. Based on the evidence, the court cannot conclusively find that the accused caused the death of the deceased, and he must be availed the benefit of the doubt and discharged,” the magistrate found.
The State was represented by Emma
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