Gardener guilty of murdering Swakopmund pensioner

11 June 2020 | Crime

A gardener on trial for robbing and killing a 78-year-old man in Swakopmund in August 2017, was found guilty as charged in the High Court on Thursday.

Murder accused Unaaro Mbemukenga, 27, was found guilty on the charges of murder with direct intention to kill and robbery with aggravating circumstances in connection with the incident that led to the death of Swakopmund resident Manfred Karel Hartmann at his house on 17 August 2017.

Judgement was handed down by High Court Judge Orben Sibeya, who said initially, Mbemukenga pleaded guilty to killing and robbing the pensioner during his second appearance in the Swakopmund Magistrate's Court.

“During the pointing out of the crime scene, Mbemukenga admitted to killing, robbing and assaulting the deceased. His cap was also found alongside the deceased’s body in the bathroom of the deceased's house. Furthermore, Mbemukenga was found in possession of the properties he stole from the deceased,” Judge Sibeya stated while handing down the judgement.

According to the judge, Mbemukenga’s evidence before court that he was not involved in the incident is false.
Mbemukenga also said the state witnesses connived to implicate him in the matter, which the judge also refuted since he was found in possession of Hartmann’s cellphone and laptop when he was arrested.

Mbemukenga denied being involved in the robbing and murder of the pensioner when he testified in his own defence on 18 May 2020.

He claimed before court that the investigating officers and state witnesses were lying when they said he had initially confessed to the murder during his second appearance in the Swakopmund Magistrate’s Court on 15 November 2017.

The gardener further told the court he was not at the Hartmann residence on 17 August 2017 as state witnesses testified, because he travelled to Otjiwarongo to visit his child the previous day and was still in Otjiwarongo when the crime was committed.

In addition, Mbemukenga strongly denied testimonies by several investigating officers that he had voluntarily agreed to point out certain things at the deceased’s house, claiming he was allegedly ordered to do so by the police.

The formal bail application he brought in October 2018, was also dismissed by High Court Judge Dinah Usiku.

Mbemukenga, who walks with the help of crutches after he was shot by police officers while reportedly resisting arrest, unsuccessfully wanted to be released on bail as he said his health is deteriorating because of prolonged incarceration.

A summary of substantial facts contained in the charge sheet suggests that Mbemukenga, who was employed as a gardener for about two months by the deceased, assaulted, robbed and killed the pensioner by hitting him on the head with a brick after tying his hands behind his back.

He was arrested a few days later at his home village in the Omaruru area after he fled from Swakopmund.

Government-funded defence lawyer Vernon Lutibezi is appearing for Mbemukenga with state advocate Cliff Lutibezi (no relation to Vernon) representing the prosecution.

Mbemukenga remains in police custody at the Windhoek Central Correctional Facility, pending the presentation of pre-sentencing evidence on 30 June 2020.

NAMPA

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