Three young men from Gobabis in the Omaheke region, convicted of taking turns to rape a woman at the Damara Block Squatters camp in Gobabis on 6 March 2016, were sentenced to jail terms of seven and ten years yesterday by Windhoek High Court Judge Naomi Shivute.
Kingsley Balzer, who was 15 at the time, was convicted on one count of rape, while Fritz Noabeb, also 15 at the time, and Norman Witbeen, who was 16, were each found guilty on two counts of rape. Witbeen was further convicted on a count of theft for stealing the cellphone of the complainant.
Judge Shivute sentenced Balzer to seven years imprisonment, and Noabeb and Witbeen were sentenced to ten years each. Witbeen was also sentenced to six months for theft, which was ordered to run concurrently with the rape sentence.
In fact, Noabeb and Witbeen were sentenced to seven years on each rape conviction, but four years on the second rape conviction were ordered to run concurrently with the first rape sentence, leaving them with ten years imprisonment effectively.
According to Shivute, while the accused are youthful offenders who have no previous convictions, the offence of rape is a serious one.
Furthermore, she said, although the complainant did not suffer physical injuries, her rights to privacy and dignity have been violated. “Therefore, the absence of physical injury as a result of the rape should not lead to a reduction of what would otherwise be an appropriate sentence,” the judge stated.
She further said the sentences to be imposed should have a deterrent effect that will afford proper protection to law-abiding members of society from the invasion of their privacy and dignity by gangsters like the accused.
“Women and other vulnerable people of our society should be afforded their freedom of movement without any fear or disturbance,” the judge remarked.
She further said the fact that the complainant was raped by three people is an aggravating factor, but their youthfulness and the consideration that they are first time offenders are factors in favour of the accused.
She went on to say that although the accused persons said they regretted what they did, the court does not consider their assertions in this regard as genuine remorse, because Balzer did not take the court into his confidence to testify under oath to show remorse.
Although Noabeb and Witbeen testified under oath, they did not fully accept responsibility for their actions.
In fact, the judge said, Noabeb said he had no intention to rape the complainant, whereas Witbeen asserted he was not aware that what he did was wrong.
Although the accused asked the court to show mercy on them, the judge said, remorse is one of the important factors of mercy.
“It is not enough for an accused to say he is sorry; he must accept his guilt and responsibility for his actions,” she continued.
She further said that punishment must be blended with mercy where it is deserved.
Balzer was represented by Legal Aid lawyer Giant Kauari, Noabeb by Milton Engelbrecht and Witbeen by Jermaine Muchali on instructions of the Department of Legal Aid.
The prosecution was represented by Timo Itula. - email@example.com