Schiefer gets 6 years' reprieve

Romeo Schiefer will serve only 42 years in prison for the murder of his mother and father.

13 September 2017 | Justice

A young man serving an effective 48 years for the murder of his mother and father in 2008 received only partial reprieve from the Supreme Court when his sentence was on appeal reduced to 42 years' effective imprisonment.

The Supreme Court made the reduction after finding that the sentence imposed by the trial court “attracted the epithet of strikingly, startlingly or patently inappropriate which justifies interference on appeal,” the judges said.

Romeo Schiefer, 28, was serving 28 years for each of the murder counts which were read in conjunction with the provisions of Combating of Domestic Violence Act. At the time of sentencing in 2013, High Court Judge Naomi Shivute ordered that eight years from the second prison term of 28 years must run concurrently with the sentence of 28 years on the first murder count. A further eight years' imprisonment in respect of the count on theft was ordered to run concurrently with the sentences imposed for the murders.

Schiefer was initially unsuccessful when applying for leave to appeal in the High Court but successfully petitioned Chief Justice Peter Shivute, who granted him leave to appeal against the sentences only.

Judge of Appeal Elton Hoff, concurred with by Deputy Chief Justice and Acting Judge of the Supreme Court Dave Smuts, stated that the imposition of sentence is the prerogative of the trial court.

He emphasised that the exercise of the court's discretion is not to be interfered with merely because an appellate court would have imposed a heavier or lighter sentence.

“An appeal court may only interfere if the sentence imposed by the trial court is so inappropriate, that if the appeal court had sat as a court of first instance, it would have imposed a sentence which would markedly have differed from that imposed by the trial court,” the appeal judge said.

He added that a long term of imprisonment is an appropriate sentence in the circumstances of the case. However, he said, as a court of first instance he would have ordered a longer period of imprisonment to run concurrently with the sentence imposed on the first murder count.

Consequently he ordered that 14 years of the second prison term run concurrently with the 28-year term on the first count of murder, effectively slashing six years off Schiefer's full prison term.

Schiefer has been in jail since October 2013.

He was found guilty and sentenced on two counts of murdering his biological parents, Frans and Fransiena Schiefer, both 50, at their house in Windhoek's Khomasdal residential area on 18 January 2008. He was 19 years old at the time.

FRED GOEIEMAN

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