WALVIS BAY - Three first time offenders who stole N$24 800 worth of goods from a South African tourist this month at Walvis Bay, had a rude awakening when they each got ten months imprisonment.
The trio, Junior Tangi Ipinge (28), Ian Harding (26) and Ipinge Herold (29) all first time offenders, were sentenced on Friday morning in the Walvis Bay Magistrate’s Court by Magistrate Vicky Nicolaidis when they all three pleaded guilty while conducting their own defence.
They have been in jail since 14 October, following their arrest just hours after they broke into the vehicle of a South African tourist, Frans Hendrik Pretorius.
The state was seeking a jail term without an option of a fine through public prosecutor Tresia Hafeni, however, Magistrate Nicolaidis considered the fact all three are first time offenders, with children they should take care off and that the bulk of the stolen property was recovered.
During the sentencing, Nicolaidis stated the theft and crime in general is alarmingly high as the court deal daily with such cases.
She also said that she is aware of the country’s economic situation, however, she said it does not give people the right to resort to crime.
However, she said that stealing to sustain family is no justification to commit the offence. Hence, the courts cannot have accused persons believing that visitors to this country are soft targets who do not have the benefit of protection from the Namibian justice system. “Stealing from our visitors blatantly and without regard sullied the reputation of Namibia as a safe haven for tourists and such behaviours cannot be tolerated,” she said.
Nicolaidis added the court must be seen to deal effectively with offenders who make themselves guilty of such offences.
She said the sentences must serve as a deterrent to the accused and other potential perpetrators.
“Therefore, I sentence you to ten months imprisonment without an option of a fine. However, the matter is reviewable and you have the right to appeal within 14 days,” she said.
In recent weeks, gangs of robbers have attained notoriety attacking tourists and robbing them of their valuables and money, but the magistrate’s courts at the coast have also been commended for conducting swift trials that have seen several criminals being jailed.
The Minister of Environment and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta and other tourism stakeholders have commended the swiftness with which criminals were caught by the police and brought before the courts, where they have been put on trial and sent to jail.