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State wants increased sentence for City cops

2023-07-20  Roland Routh

State wants increased sentence for City cops

The prosecutor general is appealing to the Supreme Court to increase the 10-year sentence imposed on three City cops for the murder of 17-year-old Mandela Ramakutla in 2013.

Windhoek High Court Judge Dinnah Usiku found Werner Sheetekela, Kleopas Kapalanga and Elia Nakale guilty of murder without direct intent (dolus eventualis) and sentenced each of them to 14 years in jail with four years conditionally suspended for five years.

Not satisfied with the sentence, State advocate Cliff Lutibezi approached the Supreme Court to review the sentences, calling them disproportionate to the crime. 

According to Lutibezi, the sentences are so lenient they induce a sense of shock and have no reformative or deterrent effect. He further claims that by suspending part of the sentence, the judge overemphasised the interests of the cops and this trivialised the murder. 

He also said the judge overemphasised the mitigating factors to the detriment of the devastating effects the murder had on the family of the deceased. Further, Lutibezi said the judge wrongly found that murder without direct intent attracts a much lesser custodial sentence than murder with direct intent and thus “overemphasising that the killing was not premeditated and that the cops were not hunting for the deceased in order to kill him”.

He further said the judge was wrong by not finding that murder with “constructive” intent is not a mitigating factor or underemphasised aggravating factor.

Moreover, the prosecution said, the judge erred by underemphasising or not properly considering the prevalence and increase of violent crimes and that sentences must reflect the abhorrence of society. 

According to him, the sentence of 14 years does not reflect the interests of society especially where it involved police officers who were supposed to prevent serious crime as opposed to contribute to the escalation and prevalence of such crimes against vulnerable members of society.

 Further, Lutibezi argued, the judge underemphasised and did not properly consider the lack of insight by the officers into the enormity of the crime committed and their failure to take responsibility for their action which places a question mark on their reformability.

Sisa Namandje, who appeared on behalf of the cops on instructions of Kadhila Amoomo, argued that the submissions of the PG is “spiced up” with a retributive flavour and inappropriately advocate for a punishment that is inspired by outdated retributive sentencing theories.

 According to him, the judge did not overemphasise the cops’ interests and their mitigating factors as the court recognised the aggravating circumstances and the seriousness of the offence. He said the officers were all first-time offenders who committed the offence in their duty to combat crime. 

According to Namandje, an increase to the sentences will be counter-productive and devastating to the cops who have embraced opportunities in prison to better their lives and those of other inmates. He said the officers have attended rehabilitation programmes offered by the correctional facility and received awards for good behaviour and for helping other inmates. 

They have not, since their admission at the correctional facility, been charged with misconduct and have enrolled for studies at various educational institutions. 

To increase their sentences would place a damper on their efforts to rehabilitate and re-emerge as fully productive citizens after the prison term, Namandje cautioned. He said it would be inappropriate, unfair and unjust to increase the sentence and prayed for the appeal to be dismissed.

2023-07-20  Roland Routh

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