Namibia’s commissioner of refugees Likius Valombola was reckless about the consequences when he fired two shots in the direction of persons on a street and killed former student leader Helao Ndjaba in May 2018.
Windhoek High Court Judge Claudia Claasen made this conclusion yesterday when she convicted the 57-year-old Valombola of murder in the form of dolus eventualis. Valombola was immediately taken into custody after the judge revoked his bail until the next appearance on 15 November for pre-sentencing procedures.
She, however, acquitted him on the charge of discharging a firearm in public as she felt it constitutes a duplication of charges as the firing of the shots culminated in the untimely death of Ndjaba, who was an executive member of the Namibia National Student Organisation (Nanso).
The judge further said that the only reasonable inference to be drawn from the evidence is that the bullets that killed Ndjaba were fired from Valombola’s firearm. Ndjaba died in the Katutura state hospital on 28 May 2018 after he was shot twice in the head between 18 and 19 May 2018 at the busy intersection of King Kauluma and Omuvapu streets in the Ombili area of Katutura.
He was shot while waiting for a taxi. Valombola claimed that he feared for his and the lives of his son and wife who were with him when he arrived at the scene where a sedan vehicle was blocking their way. He further claimed the youngsters who were with the vehicle became rowdy and aggressive and started pounding on his car.
The judge, however, rejected this evidence as false beyond a reason. She said the starting point is whether the situation was indeed one wherein the family was threatened, making it necessary for the father to shoot.
“The general thrust of the defence was that the group hit the car violently, that it was multiple persons and that they did not subside, not even after the first shot was fired,” Claasen remarked.
According to the judge, she finds it strange that no damage to the car was reported while it was claimed that the persons were hitting the car violently. Surely, she said, some form of damages must have occurred if the beating was as violent as claimed. She further said there is also the subsequent conduct by the family, insofar as they nonchalantly drove from the scene after knowing that two shots had been discharged.
Their version that none of them saw flashing lights of the car that followed them, as was testified by one of the State witnesses, is a difficult pill to swallow as repeated flashing lights would have been more prominent and noticeable in the dark of the night.
The judge further narrated that it was clear Valombola was traced through the knowledge of the person that followed them and obtained the registration details of their car.
“Additionally, had a person been subjected to a robbery, as Valombola suggested, the logical thing would have been to report it to the police, especially since the degree of violence was so high that he was compelled to use his firearm to avert the danger,” the judge stated.
“Instead, he went home to sleep, which is rather strange in the circumstances. The defence that was presented was not cogent and believable and is rejected as false beyond any doubt.”
The judge further said that Valombola admitted that he fired two shots on the scene and there is no evidence that anyone else discharged shots at the scene, thus it is highly probable that it was the bullets fired from his firearm that hit and killed the deceased.
According to Claasen, by using a lethal weapon to fire in the direction of where people were standing, Valombola should have foreseen the possibility that there was a risk that the bullets could kill someone.