The mother of a nine-year-old girl whose body was found in a rubbish skip in Windhoek in January 2020 has to stand trial with a married couple accused of murdering the girl, a judge has ruled in the Windhoek High Court.
The state has shown it would be prejudiced if separate trials are held for the three people charged in connection with the death of Natalie Chipomho, acting judge Philanda Christiaan said in a ruling delivered on Monday.
Christiaan also said the state has shown that all three accused – Chipombo’s mother, Rachel Kureva, and married couple Edward Nkata and Caroline Nkata – are alleged to have been involved in different capacities in the crimes they are accused of, and that it would not be in the interest of the three accused or of justice to have a duplication of evidence in separate trials.
Christiaan gave her ruling after the state applied to have the two separate cases in which the Nkata couple and Kureva were charged joined into one.
The application was granted by Christiaan, who ordered that the charges in the two cases should be joined into one indictment.
Kureva (41), Edward Nkata (40) and Caroline Nkata (39) – all of whom are citizens of Zimbabwe – were initially jointly charged, before the prosecutor general decided in January last year to continue only with the prosecution of the Nkatas.
A year later, though, the prosecutor general decided to again charge Kureva, after a teenage witness made a statement to the police in which he allegedly implicated her in connection with her daughter’s death.
The case in which the Nkata couple are charged has been on hold since Kureva was rearrested and charged again.
Their and Kureva’s trial is scheduled to start in the High Court on 15 January 2024.
The state is alleging that Chipomho was killed through an assault in Windhoek between 23 and 25 January 2020.
It is also alleged that after she had been assaulted, she was placed in a plastic tub and left to die in the garage of the flat shared by the Nkata couple and Kureva.
After Chipombo had died due to head injuries, a wheelie bin was used to take her body from the flat to a nearby rubbish skip, where the body was set on fire in an attempt to hide Chipombo’s identity and hinder an expected police investigation into her disappearance or death, the state is charging as well in its indictments against Kureva and the couple.
Kureva was employed as a nurse at the time her daughter was killed.
The state is also alleging that Kureva had left the day-to-day supervision of her daughter in the hands of the Nkata couple before the girl’s death, and that she failed to provide adequate medical assistance to Chipombo after the girl sustained visible physical injuries during the period of 20 to 25 January 2020.
The Nkatas and Kureva are charged with counts of murder, attempted murder, defeating or obstructing the course of justice, fraud and forgery.
In respect of the fraud and forgery charges, the state is alleging that during 2019 Kureva and the couple falsely claimed Chipombo was the Nkatas’ child in order to enrol her at a school where Caroline Nkata was employed as a teacher, and that they forged a school report of Chipombo as well to have her enrolled at another school.
Kureva and the Nkatas are all being held in custody.