The Windhoek High Court yesterday sentenced a man, who poured petrol on his girlfriend and 13-month-old daughter and set them alight to 28 years imprisonment for her death and attempted murder of the minor.
Judge Christie Liebenberg said although Manfred Links showed remorse for his crimes, it does not take away the gravity attached to them.
Thus, the court sentenced him to serve 28 years in prison on the charge of murder and six years for attempting to kill his child.
The court ordered that the sentence for the attempted murder run concurrently with that of murder – giving an effective total of 28 years.
Links was found guilty of murdering his girlfriend Michelle Roelph on 1 January 2020 and attempting to kill their minor child by pouring petrol on them and setting them alight in Ariamsvlei in the Karasburg district.
Roelph died in hospital 12 days after the attack, while the minor sustained injuries.
Handing down the sentence, Liebenberg said Links did not act on the spur of the moment but planned the incident when he went to buy the petrol.
“What is evident from the accused’s evidence is that the real issue was not because the deceased refused to leave the house, but rather because she had stabbed him with a pair of scissors in the arm earlier in the day,” said Liebenberg.
He said Links’ act of pouring petrol on the victim was more likely in retaliation than a desire to force her to leave.
“It seems inconceivable the amount of pain the deceased must have suffered during those 12 days before her death. Not only was it horrid, cruel and heartless, but it was completely unnecessary.
“Five young children were left without the love and care of their mother, and for the youngest one, she would likely find this challenge even more difficult, as she has the extra burden of having to deal with the knowledge that her father sacrificed her life just to get back at her mother,” said Liebenberg.
He further noted that there is no doubt that the death of the victim and Links as a father to the children, would adversely impact the children’s lives.
However, given Links’ circumstances, the gravity of the offences he was convicted of and the legitimate interest of society, the judge said the objectives of punishment in this instance should be deterrence and retribution – rehabilitation being of lesser consideration – 28 years imprisonment will suffice.
Links was represented by Milton Engelbrecht, while Ian Malumani prosecuted for the state.