Valombola to hear fate in October

01 July 2021 | Justice

MARC SPRINGER

WINDHOEK

Commissioner for refugees Likius Valombola will hear on 8 October whether it constituted murder when two shots he fired in Okuryangava three years ago hit a bystander, causing his death several days later.

The accused remains adamant that the fatal incident was an accident. State prosecutor Ethel Ndlovu is excluding that possibility.

In her closing arguments delivered on Tuesday, she insisted that Valombola acted with clear intent on 18 May 2018 when he fired two shots at student Helao Ndjaba, hitting him in the forehead.

In a plea explanation given at the start of his trial, Valombola (56) denied any intention of killing the deceased. Instead, he stated that Ndjaba (25) was struck by accident when he fired two warning shots in the air to disperse a "violent and aggressive" crowd that was hitting the stationary car in which he was a passenger.

Warning shots

According to his version, he was travelling with his wife and son on the evening of the incident when they encountered a vehicle with mechanical problems standing in the street and blocking their way. He further recounted that his son disembarked from the vehicle and approached several young men standing nearby trying to locate the driver of the broken-down car.

Instead of helping him to find the driver, however, the bystanders "started mocking us and using foul language" and eventually moved toward their car and started "violently knocking" on it.

This, according to Valombola, caused him to fire two warning shots in an effort to scare off the unruly crowd and enable his son to drive off.

Valombola insisted that he fired the second warning shot about ten seconds after the first while aiming the barrel of his gun at an angle of about 45 degrees into the air and did not realise anybody had been hit before his son drove away from the scene.

Forensic evidence

In her submission, Ndlovu characterised that version of events as "highly unlikely", saying it would have been impossible for Ndjaba to be struck in the forehead had the accused aimed his shots into the air.

She further stressed that there were no objects on the scene which could have deflected the bullets.

Referring to the post-mortem report, Ndlovu said the bullets struck the deceased at a horizontal angle, suggesting they were fired straight at him. From that trajectory it would appear that the accused had aimed his firearm directly at Ndjaba with the intent of killing him.

That scenario would further seem likely considering witness accounts according to which Valombola had got out of the car prior to the shooting and had instructed people blocking the way "in an aggressive tone" to disperse.

It would thus seem as if Valombola was upset with the people blocking their way and was "driven by anger" when he fired the two shots.

Ndlovu further excluded the possibility that Valombola was acting in self-defence, stressing that the crowd posed no danger to him and that the car had already started moving when he fired the shots. There was thus no reason for him to disperse a crowd blocking the street ahead.

Defence lawyer Sisa Namandje argued in his submission that the State had failed to prove that the shots were in fact fired by Valombola. According to him, only State witness Stephanie Svetlana claimed to have seen Valombola aim at the deceased when he fired the two shots. According to Namandje, that witness was unreliable because she changed her testimony several times and contradicted what other witnesses had said.

Valombola remains free on bail of N$15 000.