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‘Conflicted’ lawyer withdraws from rape trial

2021-04-26  Roland Routh

‘Conflicted’ lawyer withdraws from rape trial
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Windhoek-based lawyer Milton Engelbrecht has withdrawn as the legal representative of Jeremia van Wyk, who confessed under oath of abducting and sexually violating a minor in 2019. Engelbrecht claimed he was conflicted, as he knows the victim and her parents.

Engelbrecht told Windhoek High Court Judge Christie Liebenberg that after perusing the docket, he realised he could not in good conscious do his job to the best of his ability, as he is friends with the parents of the victim.

The judge allowed him to withdraw and ordered that legal aid provide a new lawyer for Van Wyk as soon as possible.

Van Wyk informed the court at his first pre-trial appearance that although he intends to plead guilty to charges of rape and abduction with an alternative count of kidnapping, he was advised that the services of a legal practitioner will be to his benefit.

The matter has now been postponed to the next mentions roll on 20 May to afford legal aid time to appoint another lawyer for Van Wyk.

He was arrested on 1 August 2019 after he was found in the company of the minor girl, who was reported missing from school. 

During his first appearance in the magistrate’s court, Van Wyk confessed to the crimes. He informed the court that he picked up the little girl on the date in question around 13h00 from her school in the area of Khomasdal. 

The accused further explained that they walked from the victim’s school to Katutura, where he sexually violated the minor. Van Wyk gave graphic and descriptive details of what he had done to the minor. 

Following the sexual violation, he went to drink with his friends while in the company of the victim. It is his testimony that he was highly intoxicated from the drugs and alcohol he had consumed that day.

He further testified that he only realised what he had done after the effects of the drugs and alcohol started to wear off. 

The girl’s picture went viral that day on social media, with a short description that she was missing. Police reports at the time indicated that a member of the public recognised the minor and reported the matter to the police.  

According to the police, prior to his arrest, Van Wyk was released from a correctional facility nearly three years ago, having served a sentence on charges of rape and murder.

He remains in custody at the Windhoek Correctional Facility’s section for trial awaiting inmates.

Felisitas Sikerete-Vendura is representing the prosecution.


2021-04-26  Roland Routh

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