Oshakati High Court acting Judge Danie Small last week convicted a resident of northern Namibia on a charge of arson and murder.
Paulinu Mateus Katale was convicted of murdering Nauyele Domingas Miquel - with whom he has a three-year-old child – by hitting her several times on her head with a super brick at Okakwa in the district of Outapi.
He was further convicted of arson for setting alight the hut of the deceased. All this happened on 5 February 2019.
He pleaded not guilty to all charges at the start of his trial last year.
In a plea explanation handed in by his legal aid lawyer Ndahafa Nghifewa, he claimed to have not been at the murder scene and stated that on the day preceding the murder, he travelled to Okahao and only returned to his home at Oshuula location where he stayed until he was arrested.
According to the acting judge, what is evident from the evidence is that two witnesses recognised and properly identified the accused, and that these witnesses’ identifications were strengthened by corroborating evidence and that the accused denial of being the arsonist and the victim’s assailant was false beyond reasonable doubt.
“The benefit of doubt is not derived from speculation. Still, it must rest upon a reasonable and solid foundation created either by positive evidence or gathered from reasonable inferences that are not in conflict with or outweighed by the case’s proven facts,” the judge stated.
“The court found that the facts of the case overshadowed the accused’s evidence.”
He further said no onus rests on an accused to convince the court of the truth of any explanation he gives if he explains, even if that explanation is improbable, the court is not entitled to convict unless it is satisfied not only that the explanation is unlikely, but that beyond any reasonable doubt, it is false.
Reasonable doubt does not depend on whether the court believes an accused or not, but if there is a reasonable possibility that his evidence might be true, he must be acquitted or given the benefit of the doubt, the judge argued.
However, he said, in this case, the corroborated evidence is that three independent witnesses identified the accused as being at the scene together with a phone-call the accused made, in which he admitted to a police officer that he could see him standing next to the deceased’s body plus his intimate knowledge of details surrounding the murder and arson effectively links him to the arson and killing of the deceased.
Therefore, the judge said, his alibi and denial of his involvement are not only improbable, but also outweighed by the proved facts of the case. I thus find it to be false beyond reasonable doubt and reject it as such, the judge stated. He further said that beating a person repeatedly on the head with a brick and killing her indicates a direct intention to kill.
According to the acting judge, the accused directed his will to kill the deceased and deliberately accomplished what he intended and desired to achieve. He intended to and killed the deceased, Small said. – firstname.lastname@example.org