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No discharge for alleged baby killer

2023-08-04  Roland Routh

No discharge for alleged baby killer

A young woman from northern Namibia, who allegedly killed her newborn baby and threw the body into a well in December 2020, was on Tuesday directed to answer to the charges by Oshakati High Court Judge Johanna Salionga.

Loide Nduyapunye Nafika applied through her Legal Aid lawyer Pombili Shipila for the charges against her to be dismissed at the end of the State’s case. 

She is facing a charge of murder, read with the provisions of the Combating of the Domestic Violence Act, a charge of defeating or obstructing the course of justice for disposing of the body, and a charge of polluting a water source for throwing the body into a water well that is used by the inhabitants of Eenghango village, where she resided.

It is alleged by the State that she gave birth to the baby on 29 December 2020, killed the baby and disposed of the body in the well. 

It is further stated that she then told a witness that she gave birth on 31 December 2020 to a stillborn baby in the field and had already buried it there. 

During her plea explanation, the accused told the court that she gave birth on her own after answering the call of nature – but that unfortunately, the baby was dead and she then placed it in a pit to conceal the birth. 

In his submissions, Shipila argued that the State did not prove that the baby was alive at birth or that the accused threw him into a well. 

He said no evidence was led to dispute the evidence of the accused that the baby was stillborn. 

According to him, even the doctor who conducted the autopsy on the baby could not say whether the baby was stillborn or alive, as the body was decomposed. 

He said the evidence of the accused remains uncontroverted and undisputed, and that she should be discharged.

Prosecutor DT Khama, on the other hand, argued that the accused should be put on her defence, as she is the only one who has personal knowledge about the deceased’s death. 

She further submitted that the cause and manner of death are not elements of the offence of murder, and it cannot be said that the State has not established a prima facie case because the cause of death is undetermined. 

Judge Salionga stated that it is a basic principle of the law that a person cannot be prosecuted in the absence of minimum evidence upon which he or she might be convicted, merely in the expectation that at some stage he or she might incriminate himself or supplement the State’s case. 

However, she said, from the evidence, it is not in dispute that the accused was pregnant and gave birth to a baby, who died the same day. 

“The circumstances surrounding the birth and death of the baby are unknown, as the accused was the only person present at the birth,” the judge stated and continued: “That she disposed of the body of the child, she admitted”. 

In the circumstances, the judge said, the evidence presented and the admissions made by the accused are sufficient to call for an answer, and the accused must be placed on her defence to answer to the charges.


2023-08-04  Roland Routh

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