The police officer, who shot and killed his colleague and friend through a toilet door during a night out, celebrating the completion of a training course, was granted bail of N$5 000 in the Katutura Magistrate’s Court.
Magistrate Niinja Hochobes granted Gilbert Aubrey Owoseb bail after hearing final arguments from his legal representative Jermaine Muchali and public prosecutor Victoria Thompson.
The magistrate did not provide his reasons for granting bail but indicated it will be available.
Owoseb (28) is facing one charge of murder for allegedly killing his colleague and friend Usibeli Nestory Mushetwe at a popular drinking hole in the City on 15 July this year.
During his evidence in the bail hearing, Owoseb said he went to the toilet to relieve himself – and when he was finished, someone came barging at the door, causing the door to hit him in the face, resulting in injuries to his face.
When he pushed back the door, he said, the person on the other side kept on pushing against the door and he – afraid he was about to be robbed or worse – pulled his service pistol and fired one shot through the door.
He said he did this to scare off the person and had no intention to kill anyone. As such, he is claiming he fired the shot in self-defence.
The investigating officer, who opposed bail, however, testified that none of the witnesses he interviewed reported any slamming of doors or quarrelling before the fatal shot was fired.
According to him, Owoseb was at no stage under attack.
With regards to the injuries, he claims were a result of the door hitting him, the investigating officer said the injuries to his face were the result of mob justice after he fired the shot that killed Mushetwe.
Thomson argued the public would feel the courts are not protecting them if Owoseb is granted bail.
As such, she stated it would not be in the interest of society or the administration of justice to release him on bail. Muchali, on the other hand, argued his client is a prime candidate for bail. According to him, Owoseb has been an upstanding citizen in his community – not only as a police officer but as a man who cared for his family.
According to Muchali, the court would do Owoseb a misjustice if it refuses to release him on bail, as he is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
That, he said, is not likely to happen, as his client has a solid defence and stands a very good chance of being acquitted.
Furthermore, he said the pending criminal case of corruption has no bearing on this matter and should not influence the bail hearing at all.
Furthermore, Muchali said, the interest of society and the administration of justice must not be used willy-nilly by the prosecution without being substantiated.
He said bail should not be used as a punishment in case the State fails to prove its case in a court of law.
This case, he said, while having similarities to the Oscar Pistorius case, is not the Namibian version and is quite different – and he confidently submits that his client’s prospects of acquittal are exceptionally higher.
Hochobes agreed with Muchali and granted Owoseb bail with the condition he does not commit further offences whilst on bail, and that he must report at the Katutura Police Station every Friday between 07h00 and 19h00.