Judge admits disputed confession

Windhoek – Judge Dinah Usiku on Tuesday admitted into evidence a warning statement and a confession that Riaan Khachab made to a senior police officer shortly after his arrest.

Khachab, 37, is the main accused in the murder of farm owner Ernst Jacobus Cloete, 73, and disputed the admissions, claiming he was only told to sign a piece of paper.

Khachab also claimed he was assaulted and pressurised into signing the purported warning statement and confession.

Although Khachab did complain to Deputy Commissioner Barry de Klerk that he was assaulted and De Klerk observed a slightly swelling on the back of Khachab, he was convinced it had nothing to do with the accused’s willingness to make a confession, Judge Usiku stated.

She stated the accused was not assaulted at the time the statement was taken, but at the time of arrest.

“I am therefore satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt and inclined to side with Deputy Commissioner De Klerk that the swollen area on the back of the accused person had no influence in him making the confession,” the judge said.

According to her it was important to note that the accused was arrested on December 2, 2011 and the confession was taken down on December 4.

She said De Klerk asked the accused if he was threatened with assault to persuade him to make a statement to which he responded in the negative.

“Further questions were put to the accused whether any actions would be taken against him should he have declined to make a statement or if he was threatened with assault or any other prejudice should he have informed De Klerk of the assault or threats, to which he answered in the negative,” Judge Usiku stressed.

Khachab, it was said, then “appended” his signature to the statement to confirm the correctness of the contents of the confession. “This clearly goes to show that the accused was giving his statement freely, voluntarily and without undue influence,” the judge said.

“Looking at the evidence presented before this court, there is no doubt in my mind that when the accused narrated what had transpired to Deputy Commissioner De Klerk, he did so freely and voluntarily without any undue influence,” she said.

“His rights were fully explained to him and he understood them well. It became apparent that the accused is not a credible witness and as such his version of not being fully informed of his rights cannot be reasonably possibly true.”

Khachab and Hans Gareth Kamberipa, 35, are currently on trial for the murder and robbery of the deceased Cloete who was killed at Farm Drie Riviere in the District of Rehoboth on November 28, 2011.

According to the State they ambushed Cloete and struck him with an axe while he was tending to his sheep and goats that were grazing, whereafter they tied his hands and feet with a rope.

According to the charge sheet, they hid the deceased’s body in some bushes and covered it with some shrubs in an attempt to defeat or obstruct the course of justice.

The two accused are charged with one count of murder, one count of robbery with aggravating circumstances, one count of defeating or obstructing or attempting to defeat or obstruct the course of justice, one count of possession of a firearm without a licence and one count of possession of ammunition without a licence.

Khachab is represented by legal aid lawyer Bronell Uirab, Mese Tjituri appears on behalf of Kamberipa and State Advocate Cliff Lutibezi represents the State. The trial continues today.

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