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Windhoek woman testifies on horrific encounter with murdered sister …in the ongoing Otjomuise murder case

by Kelvin Chiringa

The sister to a Windhoek woman who allegedly got murdered in Otjomuise three years back took to the witness box and testified how she saw her sister in her last moments with her chest cut open at the Katutura Hospital.

The deceased, Cathy Gatonje, fell victim to Elwen Gawaxab (36), a resident of Erf 5129 Otjomuise and was allegedly murdered on the 19th of August 2015 after a heated argument.

Gawaxab is being prosecuted on charges of murder and attempted murder where he is said to have assaulted another woman who was with Gatonje with a beer bottle.

 The deceased’s sister, Jeaneth Haipare testified that a nurse at Katutura Intermediate Hospital phoned and notified her that her sister had been injured and she was asked to come right away.

“We asked how serious Cathy was. My sister had a lot of blood and her head had a lot of injuries. Her forehead was swollen and her eyes were swollen shut with bruises on the chest which was open. You could see flesh inside,” she vividly narrated to a silenced courtroom.

Another witness, Jonas Matthias who took pictures of Gatonje during her postmortem under the instruction of the now deceased Forensic Pathologist Dr. Yuri Vasin testified that she had injuries on her knees, arms, stomach, upper chest, abdomen, nipples, shoulder, head, ear, a skull fracture and internal injuries seen after her body was opened.

Leonard Nghidinwa who has worked at the Windhoek State Mortuary for 14 years and was responsible for repatriating Gatonje’s remains to the police mortuary testified that the body had not sustained any further injuries while under his care and in transit.

A fairly big “blood” stained stone and broken beer bottle neck was also brought before the courts as evidence whose pictures had initially been taken at the crime scene by the deceased’s uncle Byron Awaseb.

He too testified seeing a blood-pool at the crime scene and human hair which he thought to be belonging to Gatonje.

“The police came about half an hour later and collected the bottle and the stone at 10am in the morning. Everything was visible, I didn’t touch anything, we wanted the police to do that,” said Awaseb.

However, on cross examination, the lawyer representing the accused grilled the witnesses on whether what was on the said stone was indeed blood or some other substance.

While the color was said by the witnesses as no longer looking the same, they said it indeed “looked like blood.”

Gawaxab’s lawyer took issue with the contradictions given that Awaseb and warrant officer Shetunyenga Ndatila, who keeps evidence or exhibits at the Katutura police station had initially stamped that it was indeed blood.