WINDHOEK - A former senior Namibian police officer convicted of murder for fatally shooting an 18-year-old apologised to the family of his victim when he testified in mitigation of sentence in the Windhoek High Court at the Windhoek Prison Facility before Judge Dinnah Usiku.
Lazarus Oscar Aweseb, 50, was convicted of the murder of 18-year-old Odilo Rathebe Motonane on March 22, 2016 during a jealous rage and the attempted murder of Mildred Haoses, as well as counts of possession of a firearm without a licence, possession of ammunition without a licence and malicious damage to property, but acquitted on a charge of theft.
“I ask for forgiveness not only from the mother and father of the deceased, but the entire family, the community of Gobabis and the Namibian nation for the pain I caused when I went there that morning with a gun and bullets and caused the [death] of someone. I will live with that until my last day and it will haunt me until I die,” Aweseb told the court.
He went on to say that he cannot sleep at night because he hurt people and needs sleeping tablets to get to sleep. “I must find peace in my soul,” Aweseb lamented further. He also said that he had paid Haoses N$45 000 for the damage he caused her and for her medical bills, although he had bought the items he broke for her. He is also willing to pay damages to the parents of the deceased Odilo, Aweseb said.
The mother of the deceased, Anneline Motonane, testified in aggravation of sentence and told the court she cannot forgive Aweseb as he took away her right hand, the child she depended on. She said that Odilo was in Grade 12 and was supposed to finish school that year. “He had his whole life before him,” the distraught mother told Judge Usiku. She asked the judge to send Aweseb away for a very long time.
She further informed the court that Aweseb did not once extend an apology to her or her family. During cross-examination by State Advocate Cliff Lutibezi, the convicted man said that he did not have the guts to approach the woman during the trial, but that since he was convicted, he has found religion and now has the strength to apologise.
Meses Tjituri, the state-funded lawyer of Aweseb, said during submissions on the sentence that his client has shown remorse and apologised at the first opportune time.
According to him, the fact that the accused is a first offender, is middle-aged and has shown contrition should make him an ideal candidate for mercy from the court. He asked the court to sentence Aweseb to 25 years for the murder, eight years for the attempted murder and one year each on the other convictions. He also asked the court to order the sentences to run concurrently.
Lutibezi on the other hand had no soft words for Aweseb. According to him, the accused snuffed out the life of a person on the threshold of life for no reason at all. He said the deceased was shot in the back twice after he opened the door for his killer. “This deserves a severe punishment,” he told the judge. Lutibezi reminded the court that the deceased and Haoses were in a relationship long before Aweseb interfered in their relationship.
In fact, Lutibezi said, the deceased being the younger man in the equation showed much more maturity than the accused. He asked the judge to sentence Aweseb to not less 30 years for the murder and not less than seven years for the attempted murder. He further asked the judge to sentence Aweseb to one year each on the other convictions and agreed that the sentences on the lesser convictions run concurrently with the sentence on the attempted murder conviction. He however asked that the sentences on the murder and attempted murder convictions run consecutively. Aweseb was also declared unfit to possess a firearm for five years after his release from custody.