Namibia: Court Acquits in Gang-Rape Trial

Two men charged with taking part in a gang rape at Swakopmund about five years ago were acquitted on most of the charges they faced in the Windhoek High Court yesterday.

In a ruling delivered after the state closed its case in the trial of the 26-year-old Chris van Wyk and a co-accused, Desmond !Owos-oab (23), judge Claudia Claasen concluded there was no evidence before the court that implicated !Owos-oab on any of the four charges he faced.

The judge discharged Van Wyk on four of the five counts on which he was prosecuted, but placed him on his defence on one charge of rape.

Van Wyk and !Owos-oab were accused of taking part in the alleged gang rape of a 30-year-old woman at Swakopmund on 1 November 2015. Van Wyk was charged with three counts of rape, while !Owos-oab faced two counts of rape. Both men were also charged with assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm and theft. They denied guilt on all charges.

The prosecution faced difficulties after the woman alleged to have been gang-raped died before the two men’s trial, which started in October last year.

Claasen recounted that two police officers found Van Wyk at the alleged crime scene, where he was lying on top of a naked woman on the ground, while three other men were holding the woman down.

The three men fled from the scene, leaving Van Wyk and the complainant behind.

Van Wyk’s defence lawyer, Mbanga Siyomunji, informed the judge his client decided not to testify in his own defence following the court’s ruling.

Claasen is scheduled to hear closing arguments from deputy prosecutor general Dominic Lisulo and Siyomunji on 19 March.

Van Wyk is being held in custody in the meantime.

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