WINDHOEK – A former Namibian Defence Force (NDF) soldier claims a bullet accidentally went off while showing his ex-girlfriend a firearm that he had picked up in their yard.
This formed part of 39-year-old Johannes Neuaka’s testimony during his formal bail application at the Katutura Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday. Neuaka is facing a charge of murder read with the provisions of the Domestic Violence Act for the alleged cold-blooded murder of Zya Juliet Shane Rittmann, 25, his former girlfriend and mother of his child.
Neuaka is said to have shot Rittmann in the head on January 21 at her mother’s house in Michael Angelo Street in Damara location, Katutura, shortly after dropping off their son who had spent the night with him.
Neuaka told the court he picked up the firearm from the grass in the deceased’s yard with the intention of taking it to the police. However, at the time Rittman who came from the house into the yard, demanded to see the gun.
He allegedly drew the gun from his waist, removed the magazine and pointed the gun in the air. “I lifted the firearm at 90 degrees in the air for safety purposes as I was following the procedures that I was taught in the army,” explained Neuaka.
He said as he was showing the firearm to Rittman, he lost his balance and the gun went off.
“I did not see how the firearm went off. I did not see that I had shot her in the head. I did not see where the bullet had hit. I was not expecting that there was a bullet in the gun chambers,” said Neuaka who pleaded not guilty to the charge.
Prosecutor Arie Husselman put it to Neuaka that he intentionally killed Rittman. “According to the testimony of the deceased’s sister you had threatened to kill the deceased on numerous occasions with your gun and after killing her you fled the scene. You did not even bother to assist her,” charged Husselman.
After the killing, Neuaka jumped into his black Audi A3 vehicle and rode to the police station where he handed himself in. In his defence he said he fled because he was traumatised.
Sergeant Lilian Kamwi, the investigating officer from the Gender-Based Violence (GBV) Unit in the Namibian Police Force, testified that according to eyewitnesses, Neuaka entered Rittman’s yard with his child who went to call the mother. “The accused pulled out a firearm, pointed it to the deceased’s head and shot her in cold blood in the yard,” noted Kamwi. He added that the incident was witnessed by a minor who is now traumatised.
It is alleged that at the time of the incident the two had just ended their five-year relationship. It is further alleged that the couple had problems to a point where they needed help from a psychologist. Kamwi testified that Neuaka was abusive.
“Witnesses in their testimonies indicate that the accused used to hit the deceased. He allegedly even stabbed her once and strangled her,” explained Kamwi.
The prosecution strongly opposes the release of Neuaka on bail on grounds the offence he faces is of a serious nature and there is fear that he will abscond and not stand trial. Furthermore, it will not be in the interest of the public nor administration of justice.
Neuaka is being represented by defence attorney Mbanga Siyomunji and the bail hearing continues. Photo: Nampa