Unam murder suspect not fit to stand trialBy: WERNER MENGES
THE University of Namibia law student accused of murdering a fellow student in a knife attack four months ago is not fit to stand his trial due to a mental illness.
Because he is not fit to stand trial, Johannes Medusalem Muhongo (20) must be detained in a mental hospital or prison until the President orders his release, Magistrate Vanessa Stanley ordered when Muhongo made his latest appearance in the Windhoek Magistrate’s Court yesterday.
The magistrate’s order in effect brings Muhongo’s criminal case to a close. Muhongo was accused of murdering a fellow student, Johannes Tukondjeni Shapange (20), by stabbing him repeatedly with a knife at the Windhoek campus of the University of Namibia on the morning of April 19.
Muhongo was arrested on the same day, and was referred for psychiatric observation when he made his first court appearance.
A report compiled by a State psychiatrist, Dr Seddie Alibusa, after Muhongo had gone through a month-long period of observation by a psychiatric team at Windhoek Central Hospital was handed to Magistrate Stanley yesterday.
Dr Alibusa reported that Muhongo was diagnosed with schizophrenia. He was mentally ill at the time of the murder and as a result was not able to appreciate the wrongfulness of his actions or to act in accordance with such an understanding, the psychiatrist reported.
He also stated that Muhongo is not fit to stand trial, and would require treatment as a ‘State President’s decision patient’.
Dr Alibusa recorded that Muhongo “fully appreciated that he had fatally injured a fellow student”. Muhongo however “said the victim was bewitching him to the extent that he kept appearing in his dreams”, the psychiatrist also reported.
According to Dr Alibusa’s report Muhongo accepted that he had stabbed and killed Shapange.
Dr Alibusa reported that Muhongo had delusions of persecution. Muhongo said he and Shapange had initially been friends, but that Shapange then started to bewitch him.
On the night before the incident, Muhongo said, he had a scary dream and had to run out of his room.
When he saw Shapange the next morning Muhongo asked him why he always featured in his dreams, Muhongo told the psychiatrist. Shapange verbally abused him in response, and a fight then ensued during which Muhongo stabbed him with a knife, Dr Alibusa reported.
Shapange tried to run away from him, but Muhongo pursued him and continued stabbing him when he caught up with him, Muhongo also related.
Muhongo’s explanation for his continued attack on Shapange after Shapange had fallen to the ground was that “he was filled with a lot of hatred”, Dr Alibusa said in his report.
Muhongo, who said he had been suffering a great deal under the influence of hearing voices, also said he was not responding to voices at the time of the stabbing, but “only black birds were hovering over the sky over him”, Dr Alibusa stated.
Medusalem had a long history of mental illness, dating back to when he was in secondary school, and has received treatment at different State hospitals and from traditional healers, the psychiatrist reported.
“Patient revealed that he feels bad about the incident because now society looks at him as a murderer,” Dr Alibusa stated further.
Defence lawyer Nolan Swarts represented Muhongo with his court appearances. Public Prosecutor Hendricks Tholiso represented the State.