Roland Routh WINDHOEK - Windhoek High Court Judge Naomi Shivute on Wednesday sentenced 65-year-old farmer, Willem Visagie Barnard to an effective 10 years behind bars for killing his wife at their farm in the Mariental district. According to the judge, a custodial sentence was the only logical one for the offence of murder committed within a domestic setting. Although there are compelling circumstances present such as Barnard’s old age and his medical history as well as evidence that he was under the influence of prescription drugs and alcohol at the time of the incident, a too lenient sentence such as a wholly suspended sentence will not satisfy society who will see the courts as weak, she said and continued: “This may lead to a situation where members of society may decide to take matters into their own hands, resulting in the disrespect for the rule of law. It may also bring the administration of justice into disrepute.” Barnard was found guilty of killing his 55-year old wife, Anette Barnard with a single gunshot wound to the head at the couple’s farm, Choris in the Aranos Area on April 9, 2010. Barnard claimed that he blacked out after a heavy drinking session combined with him taking prescription drugs and that when he “woke up” he found the deceased lying with her head on coffee table with a bullet wound through her skull. However, Judge Shivute was not inclined to believe that. “Although the substances taken by the accused are capable of causing loss of memory which may result in temporary non-pathological criminal incapability as testified to by Dr Max, a holistic approach to all the evidence reveals that the accused was in control of his mental faculties although he was drunk to a certain extent,” the judge remarked. She went on to say that Barnard was able to remember most of what happened, but conveniently had a lapse of memory. With regards to sentencing, the judge said she took all the evidence into account to come at what she considers a just sentence in the circumstances. According to her, it weighed heavily in Barnard’s favour that he is a first offender who is of advanced age and that he is of ill health and that alcohol combined with prescription drugs played a role. However, Judge Shivute said, murder is a serious offence and it is more aggravated by the fact that the accused killed his wife, the mother of his children to whom he had been married for a long time. “Domestic violence cases are prevalent in Namibia and mostly directed against women and children. Our courts view domestic violence cases in a serious light,” Judge Shivute stressed. She went on to say that the courts are entrusted with an important function to administer justice by applying the law in this country and have a duty to maintain law and order. The court has also the duty to protect the constitutional right to life, she stated. Judge Shivute further said the suggestion by the clinical psychologist that testified in mitigation of sentence, Edwina Mensah-Husselmann that Barnard should be given will not be a competent sentence. Again, she said, a non-custodial sentence will not be just and appropriate in the circumstances, before she sentenced Barnard to 18 years imprisonment of which eight years were suspended for five years, on condition that he is not convicted of murder during the period of suspension. The judge also ordered that Barnard is declared unfit to possess a firearm for three years after he completes his sentence.
New Era Reporter
2018-07-27 09:09:18 5 months ago