Doctor appeals againsthospital rape conviction

Dennis Noa

Former trainee medical doctor Dennis Noa, who was sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment on a rape charge last week, will be appealing against his conviction.

A notice setting in motion an appeal to the High Court by Noa has been filed, one of Noa’s defence lawyers, Janike McLeod-Janser, said on inquiry yesterday.

In the notice, filed at the Windhoek Magistrate’s Court in Katutura on Friday, it is alleged that Windhoek Regional Court magistrate Victor Nyazo made several errors when he found Noa guilty on a charge of rape five weeks ago.

Among the grounds for the appeal recorded in the notice is a claim that the magistrate made an error by finding Noa guilty although it could not be excluded that someone else may have committed the offence Noa was accused of, and an allegation that the magistrate subjected Noa’s testimony during his trial to more scrutiny than he did with the prosecution’s evidence. It is also claimed in the notice that Noa was convicted in the absence of any evidence – whether direct or circumstantial – that showed beyond reasonable doubt that the sexual act he was accused of committing had in fact been committed at all.

Noa was accused of raping an 18-year-old patient at Katutura Intermediate Hospital, where he was an intern doctor, on 11 April 2021.

The patient was being treated in the hospital following a road accident in which he had suffered a severe head injury.
Noa denied guilt throughout his trial, which started in April last year.

In the judgement in which he found Noa (29) guilty on 22 January, Nyazo said Noa was the last person known to have come into contact with the patient before injuries were observed in the patient’s anal area.

The magistrate also noted that no one knew or saw the hospital porter that Noa said he had given the patient to, and from whom he later received the patient back on 11 April 2021. Noa told the court during the trial that he handed the patient to a porter, who was supposed to take him for occupational therapy.

The court also heard, though, that the hospital’s occupational therapists were not working on the day in question.

Nyazo concluded that Noa was the only person who had a window of opportunity to sexually violate the patient.

During the sentencing on Thursday last week, Nyazo remarked that Noa had a duty of care towards the patient, but took advantage of his position “to quench his sexual appetite”.

It is aggravating that the patient Noa was found to have raped was not only in hospital, but was in a vegetative state and unable to communicate, walk or feed himself, which made him vulnerable beyond measure, Nyazo said before informing Noa he was being sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment.

For ordinary men and women, a hospital is a place of hope, care, recovery, life and revival, Nyazo said. Quoting renowned nurse Florence Nightingale, he added that the very first requirement of a hospital is that it should do the sick no harm.

The fact that Noa lost his medical career as a result of being found guilty of rape is a substantial factor to be taken into account, but would not compel the court to deviate from imposing the minimum sentence prescribed in the Combating of Rape Act, which is a period of five years’ imprisonment, Nyazo said as well.

He continued that the aggravating circumstances in the case before him outweighed Noa’s personal circumstances by far, and entitle the court to impose a sentence beyond the prescribed minimum prison term of five years.

The magistrate agreed with defence lawyer James Diedericks’ argument that the minimum period of imprisonment applicable in Noa’s case was five years, and not 15 years as was argued by state advocate Palmer Kumalo during a presentence hearing earlier last week.

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