Prisoner’s attempt to cancel increased sentence fails

Photo: File.

A convicted knife killer whose appeal against the sentence that he received on a murder charge backfired in the Windhoek High Court nine years ago has failed with an attempt to have his increased jail term cancelled.

Prison inmate Salom Shifela cannot now expect the High Court to sit on an appeal or review of the decision of two judges who increased his initial sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment to 20 years near the end of July 2014, judge Claudia Claasen said in a judgement delivered in the Windhoek High Court last week.

If Shifela is aggrieved by the outcome of the appeal lodged after he was sentenced in September 2013, a case that he filed against lawyer Titus Ipumbu, who represented him in the appeal, is not the way to address his unhappiness, Claasen remarked.
She added: “This attempt by him is an exercise in futility.”

In an application that Shifela filed against Ipumbu in the Windhoek High Court last year, he claimed he did not instruct Ipumbu to appeal against the sentence that he received at the end of a trial in the Windhoek Regional Court.

That appeal ended badly for Shifela, when two judges not only dismissed the appeal but also increased his sentence to 20 years’ imprisonment.

Shifela was convicted of murder before he was sentenced in the Windhoek Regional Court.

The murder was committed in Windhoek in July 2007, when Shifela stabbed a 34-year-old man in the neck, killing him, in the man’s room, after the two of them had been involved in an argument about wine at a bar where they had been in each other’s company.

In the appeal judgement, judge Nate Ndauendapo noted that the number of murders being committed in Namibia had reached an alarming level, and remarked that the effective prison term of 10 years received by Shifela at the end of his trial did not send out a strong enough message that the courts would severely punish people who kill others.

In his case against Ipumbu, Shifela wanted the court to order the withdrawal of his appeal, which had been heard in June 2014 and on which a judgement had been given near the end of July 2014.

He also wanted the court to require Ipumbu to provide proof that he had been instructed by Shifela to appeal against his sentence.

Shifela informed the court he had completed serving the sentence he initially received and was expecting to be released when he discovered to his surprise that the sentence had been increased in an appeal judgement of the High Court.

A power of attorney signed by Shifela and two witnesses at the end of September 2013, which Ipumbu provided to the court, showed Shifela gave a mandate to Ipumbu to appeal against the sentence he initially received, Claasen found.

She also noted that according to Ipumbu, he was summoned to a prison where Shifela was being held after he had been sentenced, and during a consultation with Shifela received instructions to appeal against his sentence.

Ipumbu stated that he advised Shifela the sentence he had received was lenient, considering that he had been found guilty of murder committed with a direct intention to kill, and that the High Court might even increase his sentence. Notwithstanding that advice, Shifela instructed him to proceed with an appeal – which ended up backfiring.

A claim by Shifela that he did not remember signing a power of attorney giving Ipumbu a mandate to pursue an appeal was “a lukewarm explanation” against the compelling nature of the written document, Claasen commented, before dismissing Shifela’s application.

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