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Farmworker guilty of murder with direct intent

2021-12-06  Roland Routh

Farmworker guilty of murder with direct intent

A farmworker from the Maltahöhe area was convicted of murder with direct intent read with the provisions of the Combating of Domestic Violence Act over the death of the mother of his four children.

Judge Dinnah Usiku convicted Frans Abraham in the Windhoek High Court at the Windhoek Correctional Facility.

Abraham pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and attempted murder at the start of his trial. He was charged with killing Elizabeth Swartbooi and of attempting to kill his then three-week old son. He was, however, acquitted on the attempted murder charge as the judge found that there is insufficient evidence to prove the charge.

According to Judge Usiku, the evidence of the daughter of the deceased and the accused stood the test of time and was clear and consistent even though she was a minor. She further said that in its final analysis, the court found that the witness, who may not be named as she is a minor, despite being a single witness, was credible with no inconsistencies in her testimony.

“She testified in a clear and coherent manner, full of detail as to what transpired on the night in question,” the judge stated. She further said that a trial court should, while considering the totality of the evidence, weigh up all the elements that point towards the accused’s guilt against all those indicative of his innocence. Doing this, she said, takes proper account of inherent strengths and weaknesses, probabilities, and improbabilities on both sides. The court must then decide whether the balance weighs so heavily in favour of the State that it excludes any reasonable doubt about the accused’s guilt. In the present matter, the judge said, the court must decide what happened in the accused and deceased’s home on or between 31 December 2018 and 1 January 2019 at Maltahöhe. At the time, she said, the deceased, the accused and their two children were present in the room. Of whom this court has heard the testimonies of two parties who were present in the room, the accused and his daughter. The version of events as testified to by the daughter has been proven to be credible, and is corroborated by other witnesses and the medical report presented before this court, the judge said. “Having accepted the State’s version, it is evident that the accused then lied to witnesses as to what happened to the deceased and why she was lying on the verandah under distress and pain,” the judge said and continued: The accused was seen by his biological daughter whilst attacking the deceased with a knife. The court was able to observe the demeanour of this witness who demonstrated that she knew the essence of telling the truth and the consequences of telling lies.” She further said that the minor was able to stand the test of cross-examination as young as she is, according to the judge.

“The accused’s version of what occurred between him, and the deceased seems highly improbable on its own, even more so when considered with the other evidence. His evidence as to how the deceased was stabbed appears highly unlikely and improbable. It is in stark contrast to the objective evidence provided by the post-mortem examination findings and Dr Simasiku Kabanje’s evidence regarding the bruises on the shoulder and abdomen which he described as stab wounds,” judge Usiku stressed. She further said the accused used a knife which is a very dangerous object when aimed at a sensitive area of a human body, the abdomen which is made of soft tissue which can be penetrated easily by any sharp object and if a victim does not receive emergency medical death may ensue.

In the end, the judge said, she is satisfied that the truth has been told and reject the accused’s evidence as false beyond reasonable doubt and he is accordingly convicted as charged.

The matter will return on 19 January next year, for pre-sentencing procedures and Abraham remains in custody.

He is represented by Milton Engelbrecht on instructions on Legal Aid and the State by Ian Malumani.  

2021-12-06  Roland Routh

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