Court suicide victim could only afford N$20 fine

An impoverished mother, who survived an earlier suicide attempt after a quarrel over a government food donation, committed suicide inside police holding cells after she was slapped with a N$3 000 fine for child neglect.

31 July 2020 | Health



A destitute woman who hanged herself in the holding cells at the Rundu Magistrate's Court on Tuesday after being sentenced to six months in prison, or a N$3 000 fine, had informed the court that she had only N$20 to her name.

In fact, Loise Kasova Fransisco (32) was discharged from hospital just the previous day, Monday, where she had received treatment after an earlier suicide attempt, emanating from a quarrel with her brother over a government food donation.

Child neglect

The ordeal for the mother of two daughters, aged 15 and 5, started when she gave birth to the younger daughter on 2 November 2015 and disappeared from the hospital, leaving the baby behind.Under pressure from her family, she returned to the hospital days later to pick up the baby, but by then police was already on her trail. On November 12, she was arrested. She was charged with contravening Section 18 of Act 33 of 1960, which is ill treatment and child neglect. On 20 September 2018 she appeared before Magistrate Hellen Olaiya and the matter was thereafter postponed several times while she sought legal representation.

Only on 2 October 2019 did she manage to get a lawyer through the Legal Aid Directorate.

Daisy Boois was assigned to represent the desperate mother.

On Tuesday this week, the accused pleaded guilty and was subsequently sentenced to six months' imprisonment or a fine of N$3 000.

Court records show that Boois argued that her client only had N$20 and should be sentenced to a fine of no more than N$1 000, alternatively to 600 hours of community service, because her family could not raise money for her release.

However, State prosecutor Rauna Shihuandu argued that the offence was a serious one and a fine of N$1 500 or six months' imprisonment would be appropriate.

Magistrate Olaiya then passed a sentence of N$3 000 or six months' imprisonment, which was subject to review and appeal.

The distraught mother was then whisked out of court and placed in holding cells, before doors were slammed shut.

At around 17:02, Fransisco hanged herself with a scarf in the court's holding cells.

Speaking to Namibian Sun this week, Fransisco's family demanded to know how she managed to kill herself in police custody.

“We as the family are not happy about what transpired. We don't understand how after the late called us to inform us that she was sentenced, she managed to commit suicide.”

The Kavango East crime coordinator, Deputy Commissioner Bonifatius Kanyetu, told Namibian Sun that the police were investigating the incident and he could not comment before the facts were established.

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