Windhoek-The man dubbed “the Katutura strangler” was this week convicted of the rape and manual strangulation of a bar lady at a shebeen in Albert Conradie Street in Katutura.
Moses Ndiiweda Puleni, 31, was charged with raping 18-year-old Paulina Nghidinitango, who worked as a bar lady at the same premises he was employed as a security guard, and strangling her to death before stealing about N$55,000, some alcohol, recharge vouchers and two cellphones.
He denied all charges at the start of his trial and further denied a confession he made to a magistrate shortly after his arrest.
But High Court Judge Nate Ndauendapo who heard the trial however admitted the confession into evidence.
In the confession Puleni said: “I went and collect a wire and strangled her on the neck with it but at that time she was not dead as she was breathing and I decided to rape her. After that, she then died. I proceeded to tie her hands and legs with an electric cable. I further tied a cloth on her head. From there I proceeded to the safe and removed the money which was around N$55,000 (Fifty-five thousand Namibian dollars). I also took three nippies of Richelieu and White Horse, I also took some cellphone recharges and some cigarettes, I also took two cellphones and after that I ran away (sic).”
According to Judge Ndauendapo, this was an unequivocal admission of guilt and corroborated the pathologist’s finding that the deceased died of ligature strangulation. Puleni was arrested in the north on January 2, 2012 after he fled Windhoek.
Judge Ndauendapo said evidence was presented that blood was found on the uniform of Puleni as well as on the floor of the room he slept in, and the only inference to be drawn is that the blood could only have come from the deceased because she was the one found dead.
The judge also found that Puleni’s claim that he had a secret sexual relationship with the deceased was an afterthought and must be rejected as false.
The judge said although there were no eyewitnesses to the rape and killing of 18-year-old Paulina Nghidinitango, the circumstantial evidence such as that the accused was the last person to be seen with the deceased on December 30 to 31, 2011, that when the body of the deceased was found the accused was nowhere to be found, that the safe had a cut in it and the money was missing, that blood was found on the floor of the room of the accused and on his uniform, that he was financially loaded on December 31, 2011, that he had a bite wound on his finger and marks on his neck – and if put in its place and every other reasonable inference is excluded, then the only inference that can be drawn is that the deceased was raped and murdered by Puleni.
“The evidence against the accused was overwhelming and in my respectful view, the state proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused committed the murder and rape of the deceased,” the judge said.
He however said that on the charge of robbery with aggravating circumstances he was not satisfied the state proved the guilt of Puleni.
“The accused confessed that he took the money, the alcohol, cellphone recharges and two cellphones after he murdered the deceased and no force was used when he took the money and other properties, therefore he can only be convicted of theft,” Judge Ndauendapo said before he convicted Puleni of murder, rape and theft.
He now has to return to court on May 31 for pre-sentencing procedures.
Puleni was represented by Mbanga Siyomunji on instructions from legal aid and State Advocate Dominic Lisulo prosecuted.