High Court Judge Herman January on Friday sentenced a man from Otjimbingwe in the Erongo region to an effective 35 years in prison for three convictions of rape and two for common assault.
Jackson Katjombe (36) was convicted of raping three complainants between January and September 2018 at a farm in the Otjimbingwe area.
He was also convicted of physically assaulting his victims and threatening to kill them, if they reported the rape incidents to anyone.
Katjombe pleaded not guilty to three counts of rape, alternatively contravening the Combating of Immoral Practices Act, three counts of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, and three counts of assault by threat at the start of his trial last year.
One of the complainants is a 29-year-old mentally challenged woman who is unable to walk, but crawls and can also not use her arms.
She is totally dependent on her siblings for care. The second rape victim was 14 years old and the third is eight years old.
The judge sentenced Katjombe to 15 years on each rape conviction with five years of each sentence to be served concurrently with the sentence on the first. He further sentenced him to six months each on the assault counts and ordered them conditionally suspended for five years.
According to the Judge, the accused was not consistent in his defence throughout the trial and often evaded questions posed to him in cross-examination and in questioning by the court in an effort to mislead the court.
He said the victims in this case are all vulnerable, whichever way they are looked at. The first complainant, he said, is wheelchair bound and has a developmental gap while the second victim, although not displaying any significant abnormalities, has a low IQ [ a measure of a person’s reasoning ability] compared to her age.
The third victim who was between the ages of eight and nine years, Judge January said, also has a low IQ compared to her peers.
The judge said that the offences were committed in a continuous fashion, when the victims were alone, with nobody to defend them, in the absence of their ability to defend themselves.
He said the legislation in this regard considers the offence of rape in a very serious light. However, he said, in light of the Gaingob judgement that prohibits extremely long sentences, the court is obliged to consider the cumulative effect of the sentences to be imposed.
However, he said, the court is obliged to impose a sentence of 15 years for rape if it finds that substantial and compelling circumstances exists. In this instance, he said, he found that such circumstances exist as the complainants were assaulted and threatened by the convict.
Further, he said, there was undoubtedly some degree of emotional harm suffered by the complainants as a result of the rape attacks. “While the shame that rape brings on a family in large part derives from the community’s response to that rape, sometimes this shame comes from the feeling of guilt within the family as well,” the judge stated and continued. “The baseline consumption must be that non-consensual sexual intercourse with a woman is the most humiliating experience she can ever be subjected to.”
The judged added: “I doubt that a woman can ever forget the day that she had been subjected to the indignity of rape.”
He said after considering the personal circumstances of the convict, the circumstances under which the crimes were committed and the interest of society, a custodial sentence was unavoidable.
Katjombe was represented by Tjingairi Kaurivi on instructions of Legal Aid and the State by Timo Itula.