Windhoek High Court Judge Christie Liebenberg yesterday acquitted the only woman accused in the murder and robbery trial of three people charged with killing elderly farmer, Willem Cornelius de Klerk, aged 71 at Farm Villa Rosa in the Usakos District on all charges.
The judge announced not guilty on charges of murder, two counts of housebreaking with intent to steal and robbery with aggravating circumstances; a count of robbery with aggravating circumstances; the use of motor vehicle without the owner’s consent; attempting to or obstructing the course of justice; possession of firearms without a license and possession of ammunition for Zelda Harases.
He also found the main accused in the matter, Karel Claasen, not guilty on the charge of murder and the counts of defeating or obstructing or attempting to defeat the course of justice and convicted him on the lesser charge of theft on the housebreaking charge and guilty as an accessory after the facts on the charge on robbery with aggravating circumstances.
The judge also convicted Claasen on one count of using motor vehicles without the owners’ consent and the arms and ammunitions charges.
Dion Haraseb who admitted guilt on the charges that he used the vehicles without the owner’s consent, the defeating or obstructing the course of justice count and the arms and ammunitions counts, but denied killing and robbing the deceased was convicted on all charges.
He pleaded self-defense in the killing of the deceased, but Judge Liebenberg found that there are material contradictions between his plea explanation and his testimony regarding his actions during the shooting incident. He said Haraseb was an unreliable witness which rendered his claim of self-defense false and rejected.
According to the judge, although there is no direct evidence implicating Haraseb in the killing of except for self-incriminating evidence, his own words when he told the court that he reloaded the rifle and fired a second shot at the deceased proves his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
With regard to the intent of the accused when he fired at the deceased, Judge Liebenberg said he used a powerful weapon, fired two shots which struck the deceased, an elderly man, in the abdomen and resulted in death.
“In view of the deceased’s advanced age, the serious injuries inflicted on a vulnerable part of the body and who had been left at his own mercy, these are all factors indicative of the accused’s mindset i.e. to kill the deceased and to have acted with direct intent,” he stressed.
With regard to Claasen, he said the State failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt he had anything to do with the murder and he was thus entitled to the benefit of the doubt.
With regards to Harases, Judge Liebenberg said there is no evidence that remotely incriminates her as being involved in the commission of the murder which, he said, the State conceded.
On the other charges, the judge stated, it was not proved that either Claasen or Harases were involved in the planning thereof and as such the court has to give the benefit of the doubt.
Claasen and Harases will return to Court on 18 march for pre-sentencing procedures and remain in custody at the Windhoek Correctional Facility’s section for trial awaiting inmates.
Claasen is represented by Mbanga Siyomunji, Haraseb by Illeni Gebhardt and Harases by Mese Tjituri, all on instructions of Legal Aid while the prosecution is represented by Marthino Olivier.
2020-03-10 08:58:12 | 4 months ago