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Gang rape convicts to hear their fate

2021-02-23  Roland Routh

Gang rape convicts to hear their fate
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Three young men from Gobabis, who were convicted of taking turns to rape a woman at the Omaheke town in March 2016, will be sentenced on 17 March. 

This was indicated by Windhoek High Court Judge Naomi Shivute after hearing arguments before sentencing.  
The judge convicted Kingsley Balzer who was 15 at the time, Fritz Naobeb also 15 at the time and Norman Witbeen who was 16 on two counts of rape each and Naobeb alone of a count of theft for stealing the cell phone of the complainant.
During the judgement, Shivute said the court was faced with mutually destructive versions. 

According to the judge, the court must not isolate each piece of evidence but must look at the evidence holistically and consider whether the defence case has a reasonable possibility of being substantially true. 
“Consideration of evidence in its totality supported by inherent probabilities proves that accused persons raped the complainant,” the judge found. 

The legal aid lawyer for Balzer, Giant Kauari, told the court that despite societal retributive urges and vengeance laden expectations when it comes to sentencing of offenders particularly in serious matters such as rape, the sole discretion lies with the court to pass sentence. 
He further reminded the court that the prescribed minimum sentence in the Rape Act does not apply in this matter as the accused persons were under the age of 18 at the time of the offence. 

He subsequently asked the court for a sentence of seven years with two years suspended. Similarly, Milton Engelbrecht, who is on record for Naobeb, reminded the court that the prescribed sentence for rape does not apply in the current matter before court. 
According to him, substantial and compelling circumstances which justify the imposition of a lesser sentence as prescribed in the Act is present and the judge must take it into consideration. 

He asked the court to impose a sentence of eight years with three years suspended. Jermaine Muchali for Witbeen asked the court for a wholly suspended sentence of five years on the rape count plus a period of community service. 
He further suggested that both the rape and theft convictions be taken together for sentencing. According to him, his client showed remorse and is a victim of his circumstances.

Timo Itula for the prosecution told the court the fact they used weapons, such as a panga and a knife, to intimidate the complainant are aggravating. In fact, he said, society is demanding from the courts to protect vulnerable members from perpetrators, no matter what age.
He asked the court to sentence each to eight years imprisonment on each rape conviction and Witbeen to an additional 12 months with six months suspended on the theft conviction.

2021-02-23  Roland Routh

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