cautionary rule

Outcry over rape decisions by Namibian magistrate

Decisions by a magistrate based at the Oshakati Regional Court in Namibia have led to strong community protest and concern by anti-rape activists who oppose sentences the judicial officer has passed in rape cases. They are also against him being asked to sentence a rapist in a case where he (the magistrate) had originally acquitted the accused. Now, following the state’s successful appeal against that acquittal, the magistrate must sentence the man whom he was originally sure was not guilty.

Namibian magistrate Leopold Hangalo is at the centre of community concern over his decisions in three unrelated rape matters.

In the most recent, he convicted teacher Itana Sakaria of repeatedly raping a 13-year-old learner in 2014 and fathering a child with her. The magistrate then went on to give the teacher – apparently still working at the same school – a completely suspended sentence, finding that there were compelling grounds for Sakaria to escape the prescribed 15-year sentence for raping a minor.

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