A man from northern Namibia who beat his mother to death was convicted of murder read with the provisions of the Combating of Domestic Violence Act last week by Oshakati High Court Acting Judge Danie Small. Gerson Ndeitunga Tashiya Hauulu was also convicted of three counts of assault by threat and one count of arson. He killed his mother, Paulina Angala and threatened to assault Malakia Kleopas, Wilhelmina Haufiku and Hafeni Haufiku and set the hut of his mother on fire.
Hauulu did not testify in his own defence, but claimed in a plea explanation that he defended himself against an attack from his mother and the other complainants and that he only hit the deceased once on the head with a stick he used to ward off an attack on him by the deceased with a panga.
However, the other complainants testified that he beat the deceased repeatedly with a piece of iron or a wooden stick on her head. The deceased had a large wound on her chin that destroyed the chin and caused a fracture of the left jaw bone, a contused area on the base of the brain at the back that caused bleeding, a fracture of the orbital nasal and aural bones and a fracture of the right eye. The brain injuries disrupted the blood supply to the brain and led to the death of the deceased. Although the accused did not give evidence in his defence, the judge said, is not an automatic conviction. This is because the judge must still, without speculation, give the accused the benefit of the doubt if such reasonable doubt can be gathered from reasonable inferences which are not in conflict with, or outweighed by, the proven facts of the case, the judge remarked. He further said the informal admissions the accused made in his plea explanation are evidence against him. While it is an accused person’s right not to give evidence in rebuttal of the prosecution’s case, the judge said, it does not mean that an accused’s election to remain silent in the face of incriminating evidence is without consequence in the court’s overall assessment of the evidence.
“Once the prosecution has produced evidence sufficient to establish a prima facie case, an accused who fails to produce evidence to rebut that is at risk, judge Small stated. He further said that unless an accused’s silence is reasonably explicable on other grounds, the prima facie evidence becomes conclusive of his guilt. His defence of self-defence was not repeated under oath and in any event, seems improbable in the circumstances of the case, the judge further stated. According to the judge, the evidence of the State witnesses provided proof beyond a reasonable doubt, that the accused assaulted the deceased with either a piece of iron or a hefty stick by beating her on the back of the head and continued to assault her with the same object on her head and face while she was lying on her back causing the injuries that killed her and he is thus guilty. The matter will return to court on 9 December for pre-sentencing procedures. He remains in custody. -firstname.lastname@example.org