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Woman burned alive
Woman burned alive

Man who set girlfriend on fire pleads not guilty

Woman threw toddler to the ground to save her
Manfred Links and Michelle Roelph got into an argument on New Year's Day. He doused her in petrol and set her alight later that same day.
Kristien Kruger
The trial of an Ariamsvlei man who allegedly poured petrol on his girlfriend and set her on fire in 2020 began yesterday in the Windhoek High Court.

A state witness testified how the deceased came running towards her engulfed by flames.

The couple’s 13-month-old daughter was in the woman's arms when the accused, Manfred Links (32), apparently poured petrol over her and set her on fire.

Links and his girlfriend, the late Michelle Roelph, allegedly argued on New Year's Day 2020 and she reportedly stabbed him with scissors.

The State claimed he then went to buy petrol with the intention of setting her on fire later that day and that he carried out his plan around 22:00 that night.

Roelph succumbed to her injuries in a hospital in Keetmanshoop on 12 January.

She managed to throw their daughter to the ground before she was set on fire and the toddler survived.

Links yesterday pleaded not guilty to the three charges he is facing - one of murder and two of attempted murder.

‘Covered in flames’

According to witnesses, Links bought petrol at a petrol station between 12:00 and 14:00 on the day in question.

An employee at the petrol station, who testified for the State yesterday, said Links told him the petrol was to set his girlfriend on fire.

Milton Engelbrecht, Links’ legal representative, denied that his client said this.

Another state witness said she poured water over the burning woman and helped her into the house and covered her with a blanket.

She narrated that she was at a house opposite Links’ when she smelled petrol. She asked Roelph what that smell was, and Roelph told her that Links had poured petrol over her and that she should call the police, she narrated.

The witness said she turned her back on the couple to ask another neighbour to call the police and when she looked back, Roelph was "covered in flames".

He admitted it

She further testified that Links ran after Roelph and kicked her, after which she fell to the ground.

"It looked like he was trying to strangle her," she testified.

She and another neighbour put out the fire and helped Roelph into the house.

According to her, Links fled, but later came back, crying and begging to see his girlfriend.

One of Links’ family members also took the witness stand and testified that the day after the incident, he admitted to her that he had set Roelph on fire.

"I poured petrol over her and set her on fire," Links reportedly told her.

Engelbrecht once again denied this claim on behalf of his client.

‘I caused trouble’

Meanwhile, one of Links’ friends testified that he saw the accused at a shebeen after the incident took place.

"I caused trouble at home," Links reportedly told him as he cried.

The man apparently asked a police man standing nearby to go investigate.

The trial is continuing before Judge Christie Liebenberg, with the State set to call more witnesses.

Links remains in custody at Windhoek Central Prison.

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Namibian Sun 2022-12-04

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