City cops guilty of teen's murder

30 March 2020 | Justice

JANA-MARI SMITH

WINDHOEK



Three City Police officers have been found guilty of killing a 17-year-old boy suspected of having stolen a laptop from the Windhoek City Police offices seven years ago.

The officers, Werner Johannes Shetekela, Kleophas Shikalepo Kapalanga and Elia Nakale, were also found guilty of attempting to defeat or obstruct the course of justice. They were acquitted on charges of kidnapping. High Court Judge Dinnah Usiku's guilty verdict was handed down earlier this month.



Head injuries

Mandela Ramakhutla (17) was assaulted on 16 April 2013 and died nine days later, on 24 April. A post-mortem showed that Ramakhutla had sustained injuries all over his body. When he was taken to hospital by the police late on 16 April, doctors recorded that he could not breathe on his own and had suffered a “severe head injury and was in a comatose state”.

During the trial it emerged the three police officers had assaulted him and, despite the severity of his injuries, took him to the police station where he was left lying on the floor. The three men left the building shortly afterwards. It was only later, when Ramakhutla's father arrived at the police station, that the boy was taken to hospital.



Denied guilt

All three accused denied having assaulted Ramakhutla .

They testified that they had detained him and taken him to several houses in search of the stolen laptop before dropping him off at the police station.

But several State witnesses testified that before Ramakhutla arrived at the police station, he had been seen sitting in the police car “injured and unresponsive.” Another witness testified that when the police arrived at Ramakhutla's grandmother's house, he was seen sitting in the police vehicle, handcuffed and with a swollen head.



Verdict

“I have no doubt that the guilt of each accused person has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt on the basis of common purpose,” Judge Usiku ruled. She said all three should have foreseen that their actions could cause the boy's death, but they persisted regardless of the consequences.

Usiko said the evidence showed that all three accused had attempted to thwart justice when they left Ramakhutla lying on the floor without reporting his injuries.

The three officers remain free on bail and pre-sentencing procedures are scheduled for June.

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