WINDHOEK - Both the defense counsel and the advocate for the State – who share the surname Litubezi though not related - yesterday did their utmost to sway Windhoek High Court Judge Christi Liebenberg in their favour in the double murder trial of Lukas Nepela Nikodemus, 49.
Nikodemus is charged with the murder of 29-year-old Johanie Naruses and 23-year-old Clementia de Wee by shooting them with his pistol, whereafter he allegedly burned their bodies at a dumpsite near Pionierspark in Windhoek.
He is facing two counts of murder, one count of defeating or obstructing or attempting to defeat or obstruct the course of justice and one count of failing to lock away a firearm.
He pleaded not guilty to all counts at the start of his trial in September last year, but did not provide a plea explanation and put the onus on the State to prove all the allegations against him.
State Advocate Cliff Litubezi argued yesterday that despite direct evidence lacking, the totality of the circumstantial evidence coupled with an admission Nikodemus made to three police officers is enough to convict him for murder with direct intention.
He said that the admission of Nikodemus that one of the ladies shot the other one while playing with his loaded 9mm pistol and he then shot the survivor not only places him on the scene of the murder, but at the time of the commission of the offence as well.
“Although we do not completely rely on these admissions as it will play into the favour of the accused that he is only guilty of one murder, it cannot be completely ignored,” Cliff Litubezi told the judge.
He further said that despite any inconsistencies in the evidence of the State witnesses, their respective testimonies corroborates each other in material aspects and they were credible and forthright witnesses.
On the other hand, he said, the testimony of Nikodemus was riddled with inconsistencies and contradictions and stands to be rejected as false beyond a reasonable doubt.
According to the State counsel, the emergence of “Bennie” at the stage of the bail application – two years after his arrest – came as an afterthought meant to place the blame somewhere else.
If it was indeed the “imaginary Bennie”, who killed the deceased and set alight their bodies, Nikodemus should have mentioned him at the very start, Cliff Litubezi stressed.
“He did that,” said the Nikodemus’ new lawyer, Vincent Litubezi.
According to the defense counsel who is now appearing for Nikodemus on instructions of Legal Aid at this late stage after Mbanga Siyomunji withdrew due to conflicting instructions, his client told the police at their first encounter about a coloured man from Khomasdal who drove off with the two deceased women, but he was not believed.
If the police investigated further and did not fixate their case on his client, they might have succeeded in tracing “Bennie”, he said.
He further tried his utmost to convince Judge Liebenberg that none of the evidence against Nikodemus is admissible as it was obtained unlawfully.
According to Vincent Litubezi, the rights of Nikodemus was not explained to him, first when they searched his residence and second when he made the admissions to him.
To Judge Liebenberg’s question as to the testimony of Nikodemus that he was well aware of his rights, the defense lawyer said proper procedures were not followed as it is the duty of police officers to explain the Miranda rights of any suspect regardless if they know it or not.
The judge then referred the defense counsel to a judgment in our jurisdiction where it was held that if a suspect – say for instance a lawyer – is arrested, he should be well aware of his rights.
Vincent Litubezi further told the court that is was not established when the bullet holes in the car and the blood of the deceased came about to which the judge reminded him that it was the testimony of the accused himself that before the night of the incident, none of those were there.
The defense counsel further told the court that none of the evidence points directly at Nikodemus as the culprit and with the inadmissibility of the search and the admissions, the state failed miserably to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt and his client must be acquitted on all charges.
Judge Liebenberg reserved his judgment until August 6 at 09h00.
2019-07-30 08:11:06 | 10 months ago