WINDHOEK - A recent judgement by the Supreme Court of Namibia which effectively voids sentences of more than 37 and a half years imposed for serious crime, is wreaking havoc in the High Court.
Several murderers sentenced to prison terms exceeding 37 years and six months are now flocking to the High Court seeking leave to appeal their sentences as a result of the Gaingob judgement and are succeeding.
According to the judgement delivered in February this year by three justices of the Supreme Court, sentences that give inmates no hope of being released during their lifetimes are unconstitutional.
A case in point is the recent application of Aloyis Ditshabue, then 43, who received two consecutive 30-year prison terms by Judge Maphios Cheda in 2014 for killing his 10-week pregnant wife Marcella in 2008 and his live-in girlfriend Alida Kambende in 2011, whom he had shacked up with after being released on bail.
Ditshabue pleaded guilty to the murder of his wife, but to the end maintained he did not kill Kambende.
During sentencing the judge called Ditshabue “the sort of person society can ill afford to have in its midst”.
He said the matter arose against the backdrop of a national outcry for stiffer penalties for those convicted of violence.
Ditshabue appealed his sentence after the Gaingob Judgement and Windhoek High Court Acting Judge Orben Sibeya who heard the appeal said: The Gaingob judgement which is binding on this court has offered convicted persons, who are sentenced to imprisonment terms which are inordinately long fixed terms of imprisonment, like Gaingob, an opportunity to have their sentences reduced. The applicant’s sentence of 60 years falls within this category of inordinate long fixed terms of imprisonment described in Gaingob.
Ditshabue strangled his wife to death and during his plea said he did it to make sure she died. “I wanted her dead,” he said at the time.
During the sentencing, Judge Cheda said: “What is overly disturbing is that the victims were defenceless women who you were in love with,” and continued: “Causing one human being’s death was scary enough and would normally haunt one’s conscience, but to proceed to again engage in another murder was mind-boggling.”
“However, in you one finds that you pursued these women like a tin can attached to a car bumper which rattles on until it hits a kerb,” the judge said, adding: “This type of conduct cannot be tolerated by any civilised society.”
The judge said clarion calls are being made from all concerned to effectively deal with the scourge of violence in our society.
“The calls are heard from far afield and in some quarters divine intervention has been called for. Such is the desperate situation the country finds itself in,” stated Judge Cheda.
He said that the cold-bloodedness of passion and gender violence is nothing but barbaric and beastly murder, adding that of late it appeared there were some members of society who thought it fashionable to kill women and children.
He said Ditshabue was not fit to be taken in by any woman as either a husband or boyfriend as his actions had taken away the “smallest drop of human presence” inside his entire body.