Magistrate under fire for 'grossly inadequate' GBV sentence

30 January 2020 | Justice

The prosecutor-general's office has slammed a magistrate's decision to effectively impose zero prison time for attempted murder, after a man confessed to stabbing his wife multiple times in a jealous rage.

“I stabbed my wife. I almost stabbed her to death,” Xavier Dentlinger told Windhoek magistrate Vanessa Stanley last March, referring to a violent dispute with his wife in late January 2018. Dentlinger said he stabbed his wife three times in the back and that the attack took place because “she made me mad.

She committed adultery in the marriage”.

In March 2019, he pleaded guilty to a charge of attempted murder read with the provisions of the Combating of Domestic Violence Act.

Magistrate Stanley imposed a wholly suspended six-month prison sentence on condition that he is not convicted of a similar crime during the next five years.

The sentence meant he was released from prison immediately, after spending a little over a year in jail, as bail was not granted during the trial.


This week, acting High Court Judge Kobus Miller granted state advocate and deputy prosecutor-general Antonia Verhoef leave to appeal the sentence.

In papers filed by Verhoef at the High Court, she described Stanley's sentence as “so grossly inadequate in the circumstances that it puts a stamp of triviality on the crime committed”.

The advocate stressed that the punishment imposed is “so lenient that it induces a sense of shock” and “amounts to a complete travesty of justice”.

Verhoef underlined the brutal nature of the crime and the pervasive rate of domestic violence cases in Namibia.

She said an adequate, custodial punishment should reflect the interests of society and warned Stanley's sentence “may lead to society laughing and scoffing at such a sentence and the administration of justice”.

In his judgement this week, Judge Miller said he was granting the state the opportunity to take the matter to the appeal court, as, in his view, “there is a reasonable prospect that the court of appeal may interfere with the sentence imposed”.

Records from the trial show that during sentencing, Stanley said while the crime Dentlinger had committed was serious and took place in a domestic setting where a husband is “expected to protect [his wife] and not hurt her”, Dentlinger had shown genuine remorse.

She added that the year he spent behind bars was factored into her decision to impose the suspended sentence.

Representing himself during the trial, Dentlinger, as per the trial record, asked the court to show mercy and to forgive him. “I was wrong. I was using drugs at this stage.”

He added that the year he spent in custody had been beneficial “because I am nearer to God and I know what I am striving for now”.

He told the court that while he was still legally married, divorce proceedings were under way.

The State had asked for a two-year prison sentence and added that the victim agreed that a prison sentence was warranted.

Unsafe homes

A study published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in 2018 concluded that globally the domestic home “remains the most dangerous place” for women.

The study found that of 87 000 women killed in 2017, 58% died at the hands of intimate partners or family members.

The study highlighted that Africa and the Americas are the regions where women are most at risk of being killed in their homes.

The study concluded there is an urgent need for “effective crime prevention and criminal justice responses to violence against women that promote victim safety and empowerment while ensuring offender accountability”.

Moreover, the study urged the police and justice system as well as health and social services to strengthen coordination and to involve men in the solutions.

A 2013 Namibian Demographic and Health Survey revealed that a third of married women have been beaten, forced to have sex or been psychologically abused by their husbands or partners.

The survey found that 15% of Namibian women who have experienced violence have never sought help or told anyone about their experiences.

It also found that 28% of women and 22% of men aged 15 to 49 justified beating as an acceptable way for a husband to discipline his wife.

Similar News


Covid delays Möller murder trial

1 day - 22 September 2020 | Justice

ERWIN LEUSCHNERSWAKOPMUNDThe start of the murder trial of the five men accused of murdering Walvis Bay businessman Hans-Jörg Möller in 2016 has been delayed until...

Gertze's attempted murder case withdrawn

5 days ago - 18 September 2020 | Justice

OGONE TLHAGEWINDHOEKNamibia Qualifications Authority (NQA) CEO Franz Gertze is off the hook after the Office of the Prosecutor-General declined to prosecute him for a shooting...

Estate agent guilty of stealing Congolese general's money

1 week ago - 16 September 2020 | Justice

JANA-MARI SMITHWINDHOEKA Swakopmund estate agent accused of stealing US$900 000 (N$6.7 million) from a Democratic Republic of Congo military general ten years ago has been...

Fishrot 7 could be released

1 week ago - 15 September 2020 | Justice

OGONE TLHAGEWINDHOEKA magistrate yesterday thinly suggested the court might have no further reason to keep the Fishrot accused in custody if investigators do not wrap...

Masule ruling on 28 September

1 week ago - 11 September 2020 | Justice

JEMIMA BEUKES WINDHOEKGovernment attorneys yesterday argued that the High Court does not have the jurisdiction to hear the urgent application brought by Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC)...

'Strike Fishrot case from the court roll'

1 week ago - 11 September 2020 | Justice

OGONE TLHAGEWINDHOEK Trevor Brockerhoff, the lawyer representing former Investec manager Ricardo Gustavo, has asked the Windhoek Magistrate's Court to consider striking the Fishrot...

Bribery saga accused make renewed plea for freedom

1 week ago - 10 September 2020 | Justice

OGONE TLHAGE WINDHOEKLawyers representing the Fishrot accused have asked the Windhoek Magistrate’s Court to provisionally release their clients, as the State cannot...

Court grants husband bail after wife dies in 'scuffle'

1 week ago - 10 September 2020 | Justice

NAMPAGOBABISThe Gobabis Magistrate's Court on Monday granted bail of N$2 000 to Fritz Paul, who allegedly killed his wife during a scuffle at Farm Kroonster.Court...

Con man sues for N$5m

2 weeks ago - 08 September 2020 | Justice

JANA-MARI SMITHWINDHOEK A Hardap prison inmate and South African citizen convicted on multiple charges of fraud has filed a N$5 million lawsuit against...

Woman sues after AK-47 beating by soldier

2 weeks ago - 07 September 2020 | Justice

JANA-MARI SMITHWINDHOEKA new lawsuit brought by a civilian against the Namibian police and army centres around an alleged savage attack by a soldier who beat...

Latest News

The evil that men do

9 hours ago | Crime

JEMIMA BEUKESREHOBOTH The mother of two-week-old Charmaine Moss, who died after allegedly being raped by her father, has revealed shocking details about what had transpired...

Death of football further divides...

9 hours ago | Opinion

At the time when Namibians are angry at so many things – Covid-19, high unemployment rates and general levels of poverty – sport is the...

IPC dissident opens case against...

9 hours ago | Politics

JEMIMA BEUKES WINDHOEK Independent Patriots for Change (IPC) outcast Henry Ngenomesho has opened a case of assault by threat against party president Dr...

Antipsychotic drugs back in stock

9 hours ago | Health

TUYEIMO HAIDULA OSHAKATI After being out of stock for six months, the country has finally received antipsychotic and antidepressant medication....

Meatco works towards inclusivity

9 hours ago | Agriculture

STAFF REPORTERWINDHOEKMeatco hosted a stakeholder engagement meeting with mainly weekend farmers and members of the Namibia Emerging Commercial Farmers Union (NECFU) last week.These farmers are...

Meat industry players meet

9 hours ago | Agriculture

STAFF REPORTERWINDHOEKThe Meatco board last week paid a courtesy visit to the Meat Board of Namibia to discuss how to address crucial matters hampering the...

Breaking the stigma of dementia

9 hours ago | Health

ERWIN LEUSCHNERSWAKOPMUNDSwakopmund's Alzheimer Dementia Namibia (ADN) Centre is the only one of its kind in the country. Here around two dozen people are cared for...

Horrendous abortion

9 hours ago | Opinion

Modestus H We cannot live in the present without the past; we have to link them together. In the past, abortion was not as...

A seatbelt can save your...

9 hours ago | Opinion

FABIAN AMUKWELELEIn highly motorised countries, many deaths have been prevented by seatbelts. Yet, seatbelt compliance remains worryingly low in those countries, including Namibia, where vehicle...

Load More