A former police officer who was charged with murdering his daughter in June 2020 has been found guilty in the High Court sitting at Katima Mulilo.
In a judgement delivered on Thursday, judge president Petrus Damaseb also found Sydney Ikosa (35) guilty of assaulting his daughter Joy Ikosa (2) and of child neglect.
Ikosa’s wife, Chuma Simekwazi (30), was convicted of child neglect as well.
The charges stem from incidents that took place between February 2019
and June 2020, when Joy, who was born from a relationship Ikosa had with another woman, went to live with her father and Simekwazi, as her mother was in jail.
According to testimony heard during the couple’s trial, Joy was neglected and physically abused during the time she lived with her father and stepmother.
Several state witnesses who testified recounted that Joy was beaten with a stick for soiling herself and would sometimes not be cleaned.
Witnesses also told the court Joy was not properly fed and was always dirty.
On occasion, witnesses could observe that she was bruised, which Joy’s father and stepmother attributed to her falling.
Joy sustained severe head injuries on 12 June 2020 at the couple’s home at Katima Mulilo’s Butterfly location, while she was in her father’s care.
She died at the Katima Mulilo District Hospital the following day.
In his judgement, Damaseb said he found the state witnesses to have been credible and that their testimony about Joy’s living conditions was supported by medical reports.
Damaseb said Joy was diagnosed with malnutrition and her hygiene was observed to be poor in March 2020, when her father took her to a clinic.
The same diagnosis was given on 12 June 2020, when she was brought to the hospital at Katima Mulilo in a comatose state.
Despite the medical evidence, Ikosa and Simekwazi denied during their trial that Joy was malnourished, and insisted they had taken care of her properly.
“The father cannot escape, as he took her to the clinic when she was first diagnosed as being malnourished, and even got counselling for poor hygiene.
“A person, especially a mother, cannot fail to notice that a child is malnourished,” Damaseb said while rejecting the couple’s claims that they did not notice Joy was underfed.
On the murder charge, Damaseb said there was no possible way a person of Joy’s height could sustain such serious head injuries as a result of a fall.
“She was hit with an object by a person, resulting in severe injuries. However, [Ikosa] claims that she fell two times in his absence,” Damaseb said.
He continued: “It does not make sense for a loving father to leave a child alone in the room after she fell, only to come back and see that she fell again for the second time.
“His evidence reflects guilt, though it is unknown what object he used to severely assault her. However, I’m convinced that he did.”
Joy’s biological mother, Sharlene Mbuwa, told the court that Ikosa called her on 7 February 2020, while she was imprisoned in Windhoek, and told her to fetch her daughter from him or arrange with her parents to fetch her, otherwise he would kill her.
Mbuwa further testified that after receiving the call from Ikosa, she informed her case worker. When they called Ikosa to ask why he would make such threats, he told them he was joking with her.
“I’m still in pain because of the manner in which my daughter died,” Mbuwa said.
“He never apologised to me for the death of our daughter after I came out of prison. I don’t know where my daughter is buried, as he is refusing to talk to me.
“I wish the court would give him an appropriate punishment.”
Damaseb will be sentencing Ikosa and Simekwazi on 20 September.
Ikosa’s bail was withdrawn and he was remanded in custody after the court delivered its verdict.
Simekwazi’s bail was extended and she was warned to return to court for sentencing.