The Windhoek High Court has reduced by three years a 40-year sentence handed to a double-murder convict.
Windhoek Regional Court magistrate Leopold Hangalo had sentenced Joseph Nepolo (35) to 20 years to each of the two murders he confessed to and ordered the sentences to run consecutively.
However, High Court judges Christie Liebenberg and Naomi Shivute cut down the sentence to 37 years.
According to Liebenberg, who wrote the judgement, it is clear that the magistrate misdirected himself on the law by imposing a sentence contrary to the guidance laid down by Supreme Court Acting Judge Theo Frank when he said 37 and a half years is the maximum a court can impose. While Liebenberg said that the sentence imposed is unconstitutional, he mentioned that sight must not be lost of the gravity of the offences Nepolo was convicted of.
“It is indeed aggravating that the appellant committed count two while he was released on bail on count one. He ruthlessly stabbed the deceased to death without any provocation or justification. In consideration of these sentences imposed, this court is satisfied that the court a quo (magistrate court) appropriately applied the principles as laid down when sentencing the appellant in the present matter. It did not ignore material facts and/or over-emphasised others as was submitted by counsel for the appellant,” the judges remarked.
Defence lawyer Salomon Kanyemba argued the two sentences of 20 years are ordered to run concurrently, meaning Nepolo will only serve 20 years.
Bason Lilungwe for the State, on the other hand, argued that the two offences were unrelated and occurred five years apart. Nepolo admitted to having murdered Aron Haimbodi (35) in Katutura on 25 January 2013 by stabbing him in the neck with a knife. He also admitted to having stabbed to death Shiwana Tjitaka (27) on 12 October 2018 in Katutura. Nepolo committed the second murder while on bail for the first murder case.
He told the court that with regards to the first count, he was in the Ombili area where kapana was sold when he saw the deceased and hit him with a stone on the head without any reason. When the deceased asked who hit him, he attacked him and stabbed him to death.
With regards to the second count, Nepolo claimed he was at a bar when the deceased pushed him, forcing him to fall. He then followed the deceased and stabbed him once in the chest causing him to die on the spot.