Lichtenstrasser was upset about Keetmans transfer – witness

17 February 2021 | Justice

ELLANIE SMIT



WINDHOEK

State witness Peter van Eeden yesterday testified that Ernst Lichtenstrasser, who is accused of killing his two bosses at the Namibia Institute of Mining and Technology (Nimt) in 2019, was upset about being transferred to Keetmanshoop.

Lichtenstrasser, who was a lecturer at Nimt’s Tsumeb campus, is accused of murdering Eckhart Mueller (72) and Heimo Hellwig (60), who were the executive director and deputy director of Nimt respectively.

Van Eeden said Lichtenstrasser visited his farm situated between Tsumeb and Otavi several times since 2016 to use a shooting range at the property.

He said Lichtenstrasser had mentioned to him that the department he was employed in at the Nimt Tsumeb campus was going to be closed down, resulting in him being transferred to Keetmanshoop.

Van Eeden said Lichtenstrasser felt this was unfair and said it was the responsibility of the Nimt management.

He further said Lichtenstrasser and his son were at the shooting range on 13 April 2019, two days before the fatal shooting at Nimt’s main campus in Arandis.

He did, however, not have a firearm on him that was visible, and was shooting with a bow and arrow on the day.

On 13 April 2019, they talked and had a braai and he did not seem upset or angry, Van Eeden said.

The following day, Lichtenstrasser phoned him and said he had forgotten milk at his farm and that his wife was upset.

“He sounded fed up,” the witness said.

According to Van Eeden, he was not at home when Lichtenstrasser came to pick up the milk.

Firearms, bullets

Van Eeden was further questioned about firearms and ammunition he and Lichtenstrasser used at the shooting range.

It is alleged that Lichtenstrasser drove to Arandis on 14 April 2019, where he overnighted in the desert. During the early morning hours of the next day, he waited for the arrival of the two deceased at the entrance to the Nimt premises at Arandis, as it was their habit to drive to campus together.

Upon their arrival, he fired shots at them with an illegal 9mm pistol, the court heard. Both men died at the scene from injuries sustained.

It is further alleged by the State that Lichtenstrasser then fled the scene and drove into the desert where he disassembled the pistol and buried it along with a holster and 18 live bullets.

Like dynamite

On the morning the two top executives of Nimt were shot, it sounded like dynamite exploding.

This is how another witness, Getrud Noabes, who has been employed at Nimt for 25 years, described what she heard.

Noabes said she knew both Mueller and Hellwig very well and had worked with them for 20 to 25 years.

She is employed as a matron supervisor at Nimt Arandis, and according to her, Mueller and Hellwig always arrived at 06:30 in the morning and drove to work together in one car.

She said from where she was stationed in the dining hall, she could see their car arriving in the morning, and heard the gunshots shortly after.

Deputy prosecutor-general Antonia Verhoef is representing the State and plans to call more than 50 witnesses in the trial. Lichtenstrasser is represented by legal aid lawyer Albert Titus.

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