A 23-year-old man from Henties Bay, who was convicted on two counts of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, was sentenced to two years imprisonment by Windhoek High Court Judge Claudia Claasen yesterday.
Gilbert Andrew Louw was sentenced after being convicted for stabbing his sister Jennifer Nicolene Louw in the shoulder in the early morning hours of 24 December 2016 in Henties Bay.
He also received three months for the second conviction in that he hit the victim’s boyfriend on the head with a ceramic mug.
Claasen, however, ordered the sentences to run concurrently.
Louw was initially charged with murder over the death of Jennifer, but after hearing evidence, the judge declined to convict him of murder and instead convicted him on the lesser charge of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm
In her judgement, Claasen said the post-mortem report is tainted with defects and inconsistencies, and she finds it difficult to blindly embrace its findings.
The judge also had a problem with the failure of the State to produce the patient file of the deceased, which would at least have illuminated the need for the laparotomy – if there was a need for one.
She further said the evidence of the police officer who investigated the incident that he was unaware of the operation could have been an attempt to salvage the State’s case.
The judge stated that there was a substantial period when the deceased was not seen, and it is not inconceivable that she injured herself or could have been attacked by a third party as she was drunk, aggressive and uncontrollable.
“A simple suspicion that the accused inflicted the multiple stab wounds on the deceased is not enough,” she remarked.
According to Judge Claasen, the act was committed within a domestic setting between brother and sister, and their argument erupted over something as simple as food, followed by a physical altercation and the accused’s wish to “get even.”
The judge further reasoned that the mentality of “getting even” by resorting to physical violence to deal with household conflicts cannot be endorsed as a reasonable method of conflict resolution.
“That mentality is likely to have a negative effect and aggravate a situation, which is what happened in this case. The conflict started over a trivial thing and escalated unnecessarily,” she added.
Furthermore, the household violence played itself out in the presence of several minor children, which adds to the moral blameworthiness of the accused. While she said the court cannot accede to the accused’s mother’s plea for a non-custodial sentence, society at large depend on courts to help eradicate such crimes.
In light of the victim’s own violent behaviour during the incident, which played a contributory role, the accused’s relatively young age, and that he is a remorseful first offender, the judge said she finds it appropriate to show leniency.