A 23-year-old man from Henties Bay, who admitted that he stabbed his sister, but denied that he killed her, was acquitted on the murder charge but convicted on the lesser charge of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.
Gilbert Andrew Louw admitted to stabbing his sister Jennifer Nicolene Louw in the shoulder on Christmas Eve in 2016 at Henties Bay but denied that he inflicted the other stab wounds observed on her body.
The victim died two days later in the Swakopmund state hospital. The judge also convicted Louw on a count of assault for assaulting the boyfriend of the victim, Iwan Nanub, by hitting him with a ceramic mug on the head with the intent to cause him grievous bodily harm. He pleaded not guilty to both charges and in amplification of his plea, entered a plea explanation.
His State-funded lawyer Theo Carolus confirmed the pleas and told the court his client admitted that he stabbed the deceased, but that he stabbed her only once on the left shoulder and or upper back. He further said that his client claimed he stabbed the deceased in self-defence after she violently attacked him. He further denies that the stabbing was the cause of death and responsibility for any other stab wounds the deceased may have suffered.
Judge Claudia Claasen of the Windhoek High Court said there are many questions arising from the matter such as why there was a need for a laparotomy – and incision in the abdomen – when there is evidence that she was stabbed in the shoulder. She further said that contradicting evidence was presented by several witnesses – State and defence and whether the medical intervention of the surgery could have been the cause of death.
The material question to ask, the judge said, was whether the actions of the accused caused the death of his sister. “The accused admitted the stab wound on the shoulder, but vehemently denied the other wounds,” the judge said. According to her, the bottom line is whether the State proved beyond a reasonable doubt that it was the accused who inflicted the other wounds.
“The court has issues with the number and extent of stab wounds, as well as with the medical intervention,” she asserted. According to the judge, the medical evidence does not tally with the evidence of the only sober eyewitness to the incident who testified that the accused stabbed the deceased only once on the shoulder.
“Where did the other wounds come from?” she wanted to know. She further said that 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 illuminate the need for the laparotomy – if there was a need for one. She further said that the evidence of the police officer that investigated the incident that he was unaware of the operation could have been an attempt to salvage the State’s case. The judge also said 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,” the judge remarked. The judge cancelled Louw’s bail and remanded him in custody at the trial awaiting section of the Windhoek Correctional Facility. The matter will return to court on 30 June for pre-sentencing procedures.
Henry Muhongo is representing the prosecution.