WINDHOEK – A former police officer accused of stabbing his two sons to death in April 2014 was convicted on two counts of murder with direct intent and two counts of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, read with the provisions of the Domestic Violence Act, in the Windhoek High Court at the Windhoek Correctional Facility, by Judge Dinah Usiku yesterday.
Albertus Ganeb, 32, who appeared in person after he fired three state-funded lawyers, listened intently as Judge Usiku read out the verdict. According to the judge, there is no doubt that Ganeb intentionally killed the two deceased children and assaulted their mother on two separate occasions, and that the state had proven its case beyond reasonable doubt.
He was convicted of stabbing his seven-year-old son to death on April 25, 2014 and also of stabbing his four-year-old son at least six times on his body and head, causing the boy to die six days later in hospital.
He was further convicted of assaulting the mother of the deceased boys, Romilly Swartz, once in October 2013 and again in 2014.
Ganeb denied all the allegations at the start of his trial and claimed that he was so heavily under the influence of intoxicating liquor that he had no recollection of what happened. “He was only informed by the police after his arrest that he killed his one minor child and seriously injured the other,” he claimed in his plea explanation.
According to the indictment, the two boys Romeo Swartz and Gregory Swartz, were in the custody of Ganeb in Gobabis on the day in question. The charge sheet said that while he was supposed to take care of the children, he stabbed Romeo at least four times with a knife on the head and neck killing him instantly.
He then proceeded to stab the younger boy at least six times and the boy was taken to Gobabis hospital and later transferred to Katutura state hospital where he died on May 01, 2014 due to the multiple stabbings. The judge remarked that while the state’s case hinged on circumstantial evidence, certain admissions Ganeb made were not disputed as he did not testify in his own defence.
“It is a well-established principle of our law that when an accused fails to testify or answer in the face of directly implicating evidence by the state, then the Court can safely conclude that such evidence warrants conviction as it stands uncontested,” Judge Usiku stated.
She went on to say that is as much as the accused has a right to remain silent, by doing so he did not place any evidence on record to contradict the prosecution’s evidence. Turning to the question of all the evidence adduced during the trial, the judge said the guilt of the accused was established beyond reasonable doubt. She went on to say that the court must guard against a tendency to focus too intently upon separate and individual parts of what is after all a mosaic proof.
“Doubts about one aspect of evidence led in a trial may arise when that aspect is viewed in isolation,” Judge Usiku said and continued: “Those doubts however, may be set at rest when it is evaluated again together with all the other available evidence.” In this instance, she said, there is overwhelming evidence against Ganeb implicating him in the commissioning of the offences. Ganeb, who remained in custody after he was re-arrested a few months after his release from custody on a technicality, is set to return to court on Thursday for pre-sentencing proceedings. The state was represented by Advocate Palmer Khumalo.