Woman guilty of killing baby set free

03 September 2021 | Justice



Oshakati Regional Court on Wednesday set free murder convict Martha Ndakalako Kawela who was charged with killing her newborn baby girl in 2014.

Kawela (28) was found guilty on two charges – murder read with the provision of the Domestic Violence Act, as well as concealment of birth. She was also sentenced this week.

Magistrate Leopoldt Hangalo handed Kawela a ‘holy sentence’ on Wednesday, court records show. This means the proposed eight-year sentence she was set to serve is suspended for a period of five years on the condition that she is not convicted of murder during the period of suspension and does not commit a similar offence.

Hangalo further ordered Kawela to pay a fine of N$200 for the gruesome crime. According to records, Kawela informed the court that she now has a six-month-old baby, a situation the magistrate sympathised with. Hangalo wondered what would happen to the baby if she is sent to jail. He said the baby needs a mother’s care and to be breastfed, if that is happening.

Kawela, who was 21 at the time, is accused of killing her newborn baby girl on 21 June 2014 at Valombola Vocational Training Centre hostels.

State prosecutor Nelao Ya France argued that the accused killed her full-term live baby, placed her in a plastic shopping bag and dumped her body in a black plastic bin. The baby had black leggings around her neck.

Baby was born alive

Ya France argued that what is aggravating in the case is the fact that the murder was committed when the baby was at full-term.

“The accused gave birth to the baby, killed it and then decided to dump it in the toilet. The medical evidence presented shows that the baby was born alive,” she wrote in her submissions in 2016.

The submission further showed that the accused did not testify in her defence, so one will never know why she committed the unthinkable act.

“It will also never be known why she tried to conceal the birth of the baby instead of going to the hostel matron and informing her that she had given birth. The manner in which she committed this offence is absolutely distasteful and one wonders how in her right mind she ever thought that she would get away with it.

“Newborn babies have just as much right to protection of life as others,” she argued.

Everyday brutality

Ya France said the brutality and callousness of these violent crimes have become so common that it is no longer shocking to hear of what has now been termed as ‘baby dumping’.

The submissions stated that the accused has to date not shown any remorse for her crime, and has only – when asked – informed the court that she regrets what she did.

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