KEETMANSHOOP - “It would be a consolation to the community if justice prevails and only a prison sentence can satisfy this consolation,” argued prosecutor Lewis Chikungwe when presenting aggravating circumstances in the case of convicted murderer Johannes Witbooi in the Keetmanshoop Regional Court recently.
Witbooi has been convicted earlier on a charge of murder in that he, on or about 31 May 2017, and at or near Keetmanshoop, in the district of Keetmanshoop, unlawfully and intentionally killed Bertus Cloete by stabbing the victim with a knife in the neck. In mitigation, Legal Aid appointed lawyer Stefan Coetzee admitted that murder is a dangerous act and that a weapon used in this case was a knife, but that “it has been seen in previous murder cases that accused persons stabbed their victims several times whilst in this case the act was only committed once”. He further reasoned that as Witbooi had only completed Grade 8, he could not have received training for anger management as in the case with more educated persons. “The accused has been the only breadwinner for his girlfriend, three children and mother,” Coetzee stated in mitigation. He further informed Magistrate Frans Anderson that the health of the accused’s dependants was not good, citing the girlfriend suffering from tuberculosis whilst the mother is a chronic high blood pressure sufferer.
Coetzee in addition mitigates that the accused asked the court for his life, his rehabilitation, compassion and mercy.
Referring to previous court cases, the defence lawyer proposed that a prison sentence of 15 years of which 5 years of it should be suspended would serve as adequate and detrimental in the case of Witbooi.When questioned by Chikungwe, Elizabeth Cloete, mother of the deceased, informed the court that she never saw the person who killed her son.
She further testified that her (late) son, Bertus, was a loveable, hardworking person who supported her financially and physically due to her health conditions. “Nobody came to ask me for forgiveness,” the mother replied when asked if the accused apologised to her.
“We are dealing here with a case of a senseless killing since there was no provocation or reason for stabbing and in the process killing the deceased,” stressed Chikungwe when representing the state’s aggravating submissions. The prosecutor further requested the court to impose the maximum sentence on the accused. “In as much as the accused in mitigation told the court that he has been remorseful, this mitigation should be regarded as utter lies since the accused lied to the court from the very first time,” he emphasized.