Two men, convicted of gang-raping a woman in the Omaheke region nearly eight years ago, were sentenced to an effective 18 years imprisonment each by Windhoek High Court Judge Naomi Shivute yesterday.
Jan Gemeng (32) and Ebson Tjaava (36) were convicted by Judge Shivute on one count of rape each.
They faced three counts each, but the judge found they did assist each other in raping the complainant and acquitted them on those charges.
A third man, Godlieb Rapanka Katuuo, was acquitted by the judge after he successfully applied for a section 174 discharge at the end of the State’s case.
According to the charge sheet, the complainant, who may not be named, was at a bar (Marina’s Place) at the reserve with her boyfriend and two other friends, drinking alcohol.
The accused were also at the bar.
The complainant later left the drinking place and walked home alone.
Whilst on her way, the three accused attacked and assaulted her.
Her boyfriend, who heard her screams, then tried to come to her rescue and take her home, but Ebson and Katuuo turned on him and assaulted him.
They managed to chase him away, and left the complainant at the mercy of the accused person out of fear for his life, the indictment reads.
It is further alleged the three accused then continued to assault the complainant until she was too weak to offer any resistance, and Gemeng proceeded to have unlawful intercourse with her.
When he finished, Ebson and Katuuo also took their turns to rape the complainant, according to the indictment.
The indictment further states that after the three accused finished with their dastardly deed, they pulled the complainant into some bushes and left her there. Judge Shivute said society looks at the courts to send an unambiguous message that attacks on vulnerable members of society will not be tolerated.
“Society requires the court to protect its members, especially vulnerable people – that includes women and children, she stated and continued: If the court fails to exercise its discretion judiciously, society may take the law into their own hands.”
She further said that if sentences for serious crimes are too lenient, the administration of justice may fall into disrepute.
This matter falls into the category of serious offences, she added.
“It is undoubtedly so that the accused persons committed serious offences of rape that were committed under coercive circumstances as described by counsel for the State. The complainant was raped by more than one person. She was also under the influence of intoxicating liquor. Therefore, the sentence applicable in this case is not less than 15 years imprisonment as prescribed in the Combating of Rape Act”, the judge stated.
Substantial and compelling circumstances do exist to veer from the prescribed sentence – and since the seriousness of the offence and the interest of society, she sentenced them according to 18 years each.
The State was represented by Felicitas Sikerete-Vendura, Gemeng by Mese Tjituri and Tjaava by Joseph Andreas.
Pic: Gemeng sentence