Namibia: Direct jail term for power tool thieves

Power Transmission 109 November 2013, Windhoek — The two young men who pleaded guilty to stealing power tools at a site they were supposed to guard were sentenced to direct jail terms by Magistrate Justine Asino in the Windhoek Magistrate’s Court Thursday.

Asino sentenced 22-year-old Ignatius Hendricks and 18-year-old John Pienaar to imprisonment for three years of which one year was suspended for a period of five years on condition that they are not convicted of housebreaking with intent to steal and theft or theft during the period of suspension resulting in an effective two years behind bars.

Before the sentencing the two youngsters’ former employer, Antoinette Smith, told the court that she employed both men as security guards for about a month before the incident. She said that her company must now reimburse the owner of the stolen items, which amounts to N$6 261.

Asino told Hendricks and Pienaar that the evidence of Smith carries a huge aggravating factor as they were in a position of trust and breached and abused the trust. She further said that the accused tarnished the name of the company and that the public would lose trust in a company whom they employ to protect their property, but instead turn around and steal from them.

Pienaar’s mother also gave evidence in mitigation and told the court that it was the first time that her son committed an offence and that she did not know why he did what he did. “I raised him in a good way and he knows not to take what does not belong to him,” the mother told Asino. The distraught mother asked the court for forgiveness on behalf of her son and begged for leniency.

State prosecutor Samantha Diergaardt told the court that the offence of housebreaking with intent to steal and theft are becoming a countrywide epidemic. She said that poverty and dire personal circumstances cannot be a justification for unlawful actions and the courts cannot condone such actions.

According to Diergaardt, the accused stole the items out of greed and not need and this far outweighs their personal circumstances. She asked the court for a term of direct imprisonment saying that there is no legal rule in law indicating that first offenders cannot be sent to direct imprisonment. Diergaardt recommended a prison term of four years.

In mitigation Hendricks told the court that is a single father of a two-year-old who stays with his grandmother in Mariental whom he used to support financially. Pienaar informed the court that he is 18 years old and single with no dependants.

The two were convicted of housebreaking with intent to steal and theft after they admittedly broke into a storage container on a site that they were supposed to guard and stole three hand drills and two grinders worth N$10 000.

– New Era

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