Jailed businessman’s rape sentence appeal fails

Sindano Hango

Two judges of the Oshakati High Court have thrown out an appeal against a 15-year prison term to which a northern Namibian businessman was sentenced after being found guilty on a charge of rape.

The magistrate who sentenced Sindano Hango (41) at the end of his trial in the Oshakati Regional Court in February 2022 was justified in his finding that there were no compelling or substantial circumstances warranting a shorter sentence than a period of 15 years’ imprisonment, as prescribed by the Combating of Rape Act, judge Johanna Salionga stated in an appeal judgement delivered in the Oshakati High Court on Monday.

Salionga also said she found no misdirection or irregularity committed by the magistrate when he decided to sentence Hango to a prison term of 15 years.

Finding that Hango did not have reasonable prospects for success with an appeal against his sentence, Salionga struck his appeal from the court roll.

Judge Duard Kesslau agreed with Salionga’s decision.

Hango was accused of raping a young woman at a village in northern Namibia in October 2014.

He denied guilt at the start of his trial in March 2017.

During the trial, Hango told the court he and the complainant had intercourse with her consent, and that this did not take place under coercive circumstances.

In a verdict delivered in February 2019, magistrate Leopold Hangalo acquitted Hango on a count of rape.

The state appealed to the High Court against that decision, and in February 2021, two judges of the Oshakati High Court set aside the acquittal and found Hango guilty of rape.

The judges referred the matter back to the Oshakati Regional Court for Hango to be sentenced. Hangalo sentenced him to 15 years’ imprisonment in February 2022. In Hango’s appeal notice, it was claimed that the magistrate made various errors with the sentencing and committed a misdirection by imposing a sentence “which is disproportionate and unjust to the minimum sentence” prescribed in the Combating of Rape Act.

In the appeal judgement, Salionga noted that the magistrate considered that the offence Hango was convicted of was serious and that the incident had a traumatic effect on the complainant, and concluded that there were no substantial and compelling circumstances warranting a deviation from the prescribed period of imprisonment.

The sentence of 15 years’ imprisonment “was indeed proportionate to the seriousness of the offence of rape”, Salionga said.

She added that nothing in Hango’s personal circumstances stood out as substantial and compelling to justify a sentence more lenient than the prescribed prison term of 15 years, with the result that the magistrate was obliged to impose the prescribed minimum sentence.

Hango was represented by legal counsel Hettie Garbers-Kirsten, instructed by Marcia Amupolo, in the appeal.
Deputy prosecutor general Lucious Matota represented the state.

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