The State wants to send a farmworker to jail for at least 32 years after he pleaded guilty to killing his girlfriend on 4 September 2018 at Post Houtputz in the Otjombinde area near Tallismanus in the Gobabis district.
Hendrik Bock (59) pleaded guilty to murder with direct intent for slitting the throat of Angela Anab but denied guilt on the second charge of attempted murder for allegedly hitting her with an axe on the head two years prior to the murder incident.
Windhoek High Court Judge Claudia Claasen convicted Bock on his guilty plea and further convicted him on a charge of assault with intent to do grievously bodily harm after the State conceded they could not prove attempted murder.
According to Claasen, while the accused pleaded ignorance of the assault, the evidence of the only eyewitness to the incident was clear, credible and cogent and as Bock did not rebut the evidence through his own testimony, it must be accepted.
She said that while it is the prerogative of an accused not to testify in his own defence, such an approach constitutes a double-edged sword, which on the one hand can exonerate an accused, but on the other can be fatal to a defence. State attorney Marthino Olivier told the court yesterday judges have for the longest time sounded the alarm about the worrisome trend of domestic violence in the country.
It goes so far back as 2007 when Judge Dave Smuts said the prevalence of domestic violence and the compelling interest of society to combat it, evidenced by the recent legislation to that effect, require that domestic violence should be regarded as an aggravating factor when it comes to imposing sentences, Olivier said. He further quoted Judge Christie Liebenberg who said that in the recent past, society has been horrified by the wave of so-called passion killings reported in the media virtually on a daily basis where mostly women engaged in romantic relationships are killed at will.
According to Olivier, the present matter finds recognition in the sentiments expressed by the learned judges. His submission to court is, he said, based on the cruel and vicious attack launched on a defenceless woman. “The accused stabbed the deceased three times and he went back and slit her throat like a goat,” he stated. According to him, the accused cannot escape a lengthy custodial sentence and proposed a sentence of 32 to 35 years on the murder conviction and one year on the assault.
Mese Tjituri who represented Bock on instructions of Legal Aid told the court that the accused is from a marginalised and impoverished community – the San – and that he has no formal schooling. According to Tjituri, the accused has been a law-abiding citizen for most of his adult life until this one unfortunate lapse of judgment. “He is a product of his circumstances,” Tjituri told the court. According to him, a retributive and deterrent sentence not exceeding 28 years should satisfy society’s cry for justice. Judge Claasen will deliver her sentence on Thursday.