House robbery, murdertrial nears verdict

Panduleni Gotlieb

Five men accused of murdering a Walvis Bay resident during a house robbery at the harbour town in June 2016 are due to hear the verdict in their trial in the Windhoek High Court in July.

Judge Dinnah Usiku postponed the delivery of her judgement in the men’s trial to 8 July after hearing oral arguments from lawyers representing the prosecution and the five accused yesterday. The judgement is scheduled to be delivered on 8 July.

In his address to the court, state advocate Basson Lilungwe argued that all five of the accused – Panduleni Gotlieb, David Tashiya, David Shekundja, Elly Ndapuka Hinaivali and Malakia Shiweda – should be found guilty on all of the charges on which they have been standing trial.

The defence lawyers representing the five accused made no concessions on any of the charges they are facing, and argued that the accused should all be found not guilty.

The five men are charged with counts of murder, attempted murder, housebreaking with intent to rob and robbery with aggravating circumstances, conspiring to commit housebreaking and robbery, and possession of a firearm and ammunition without a licence.

They denied guilt on all charges at the start of their trial in August 2021.

The state is alleging that they planned to rob a Walvis Bay resident, Hans-Jörg Möller, and carried out their plan by breaking into Möller’s house and robbing him and his wife during the night of 16 to 17 June 2016.

Möller (50) was shot in the abdomen during the invasion of his home, and died in a hospital a day later.

His wife, Carol-Ann Möller, who was assaulted and seriously injured during the robbery, testified during the trial that the five accused were all part of the gang that carried out the robbery and assaulted her.

She also said Gotlieb fired the shot that struck her husband, leading to his death.

Lilungwe argued yesterday there was no chance that she was mistaken when she identified the five accused.

Lilungwe also noted that a pistol was found under Gotlieb’s seat in a bus in which he was travelling to northern Namibia when the police arrested him on 17 June 2016, and that a wallet with photos of the Möllers’ two children, a tyre lever and a screwdriver, described as potential housebreaking instruments, were also found in Gotlieb’s possession.

Gotlieb’s lawyer, Mbanga Siyomunji, argued that the firearm and other items allegedly found with Gotlieb were planted by police officers to implicate him.

He also argued that it was “just a suspicion” that Gotlieb was involved in the robbery and other alleged crimes, adding that the state “dismally failed” to prove its case against Gotlieb.

Tashiya’s lawyer, Kalundu Kamwi, argued that a confession by his client was not made freely and voluntarily to a magistrate, as there was a possibility that he had been beaten by the police.

Shekundja’s lawyer, Karin Klazen, argued that Carol-Ann Möller’s identification of Shekundja as one of the robbers was not reliable, as she experienced severe shock due to the incident.

The court should find that Shekundja was not present at the scene of the attack, Klazen argued as well.

Hinaivali’s defence lawyer, Trevor Brockerhoff, also argued that the court cannot rely on Carol-Ann Möller’s identification of the accused.

He further asked the judge to reject the testimony of Shiweda, who told the court he and the other accused were at Walvis Bay on the day of the robbery and that they drove back to Windhoek in the early hours of the next morning.

Shiweda’s lawyer, Joseph Andreas, argued that his client’s testimony was not contradicted by the other accused, but also argued that the identification of his client as one of the robbers should be treated with caution and that it was a matter of mistaken identity.

All of the accused have been held in custody since their arrests in June 2016.

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