WINDHOEK - Gerald Henly Matlata, 34, the man who had the southern town of Mariental in a grip of fear for three years was yesterday sentenced to life in prison on convictions of murder, rape, robbery, housebreaking with intent to rob and robbery, theft and housebreaking with intent to rape and rape.
Windhoek High Court Judge Christi Liebenberg sentenced Matlata to life imprisonment for murder, 20 years each for the two housebreaking with intent to rape and rape convictions, two years for theft, fifteen years each for the two attempted murder convictions, and eight years for the housebreaking with intent to rob and robber with aggravating circumstances conviction.
The sentences are to run concurrently with the life sentence.
According to the judge, during the evidence of the State witnesses, it became evident how strongly the community reacted to the attacks perpetrated on some of its more vulnerable members.
“It was said the town was in shock as to what had happened. Other than the increased security of their homes, a neighbourhood watch was established for further protection of the community, all of which naturally had to be funded and came from their own pockets,” Judge Liebenberg stated.
He said that is for this reason that the community has a direct interest in the outcome of these proceedings and that the appropriate punishment be meted out to the accused.
He further said that at present, there is a huge public outcry against the senseless killing of woman and children in this country and the courts are under a duty to protect the interests of these innocent victims and to speak through its judgments and sentences on behalf of those who had been silenced.
Judge Liebenberg went on to say that the accused must be deterred from reoffending while the sentences should equally serve as a general warning to other likeminded criminals.
“The message must be clear that the courts will not shrink its duty to uphold the rule of law in society and to protect and defend the rights of its members, especially the innocent and vulnerable against unscrupulous criminals such as the accused,” the judge said and continued: In view thereof and as already mentioned, it is inevitable to come to the conclusion that the accused’s personal circumstances simply do not measure up to the gravity of the crimes committed and the circumstances in which it took place, considered together with the legitimate interests and expectations of society.
He went on to say that moreover where society needs protection against the accused, he is mindful that the accused is a first offender, but in the present circumstances the imposition of a lengthy custodial sentence seems inescapable and justified.
Although Matlata pleaded guilty to the crimes he was convicted of, Judge Liebenberg said, the writing was on the wall and Matlata had no viable defence, the mere fact that he pleaded guilty in the hope of gaining some advantage should not receive much weight in mitigation.
According to the judge, the victims of Matlata were subjected to brutal assaults and Matlata’s unwillingness to take the court into his confidence and testifying about his feelings towards his victims and the pain and suffering he has caused them shows that he has no