CASE NO.: CA 146/08
LAZARUS SODOM PENDA v THE STATE
PARKER, J et
2009 February 23
procedure - Sentence
– Appeal against – Circumstances in which appellate court may
interfere with sentence imposed by trial court affirmed.
procedure - Sentence
– Appeal against – Appellate court to be guided by sentences
imposed by court in similar cases – In theft cases – Court ought
to take into account economic status of victim of the theft in
decided cases and instant case.
procedure - Sentence
– Appeal against – In theft cases – Accused having replaced the
total amount stolen constituting weighty mitigating factor.
CASE NO.: CA 146/08
IN THE HIGH COURT OF NAMIBIA
In the matter between:
LAZARUS SODOM PENDA APPELLANT
THE STATE RESPONDENT
CORAM: PARKER, J et
Heard on: 2009 February 23
Delivered on: 2009 February 23
appellant (accused No. 2 in the trial court) and his co-accused were
convicted on a charge of theft under false pretences of N$17,000.00
and were subsequently sentenced to thirty six (36) months
imprisonment of which 12 months were suspended for five years on the
(a) that the accused is not convicted of any offence involving theft
committed within the period of suspension; and
(b) that each accused compensates the complainant, Moses Sheetekela,
the sum of N$8,500.00 through the clerk of court, Eenhana on or
before 31 December 2008.
 The appellant now appeals against sentence; and he
relies specifically and primarily on three grounds of appeal in paras
1.2, 1.3 and 1.5 of his Notice of Appeal. In this appeal, Ms
Nambinga represents the appellant, and Ms Jacobs represents the
respondent (the State).
 In Teofelus Tilenge v The
State Case No.: CA 124/2007 (Unreported) at
p.3, relying on the authorities, I observed thus:
It is so trite a rule of practice that the matter of sentencing is
within the ambit of the discretion of the sentencing court that we
need not cite any authorities. This Court, qua appellate
court, can only interfere if the discretion was not exercised
judicially, i.e. if the sentence is vitiated by an irregularity or
misdirection, or the sentence is no manifestly excessive that it
induces a sense of shock in the mind of the appellant court. In
deciding whether a sentence is manifestly excessive, this Court ought
to be guided by the sentence sanctioned by statute, if applicable, or
sentences imposed by this Court in similar cases; of course, due
regard being had to factual differences.
 Keeping the principles enunciated in Tilenge
in my mental spectacle, I proceed to consider the grounds of appeal.
The first ground of appeal is basically that the sentence imposed is
incongruous with sentences imposed by the Court in similar cases. In
this regard, Ms Nambinga referred the Court to some cases, e.g., S
v Clay 1996 NR 184 (HC) and S
v Strauss 1990 NR 71 (HC). In Clay
the amount involved was N$5,090.23 and the sentence imposed by this
Court on appeal was 14 months’ imprisonment, of which a half of the
period was suspended for four years. In Strauss,
the amount involved was R (N$) 188,637.00 and the sentence imposed by
this Court was a fine of N$10,000.00 or on default of payment one
years’ imprisonment, plus five years’ imprisonment of which three
years were suspended on conditions.
 It is my view that in undertaking such exercise of
comparison, one needs to take into account whether similar
circumstances exist; that is to say, whether the circumstances in the
instant case and the decided case are comparable; that is similar.
For instance, did the money stolen belong to a big wealthy company or
a rich individual; or was the victim a poor company or a poor
individual. For instance in Clay,
the victim of the crime was Model Supermarket, and in Strauss,
it was Consolidated Diamond Mines (CDM) at Oranjemund. Ms Nambinga
appeared to appreciate this factor.
 A big wealthy company or a rich individual may
consider N$17,000.00 as a small change, but for a rural clerk like
the complainant, N$17,000.00 may be
his entire life-saving. Thus, in the eyes of this Court, to steal
from an individual by false pretences his hard-earned money of
N$17,000.00 in Namibia, a developing country, is a very serious
offence on any pan of scale: it is not an offence this Court should
simply grin at. We have taken this factor into account in deciding
whether the instant case and Strauss
and Clay, for example,
are similar, and having done so we have come to the conclusion that
the circumstances are not similar.
 The second ground of appeal is that the learned
magistrate erred in law or on the facts because the learned
magistrate, according to the appellant, did not take into account
mitigating circumstances, including the fact that the accused is the
father of five children and he is the one taking care of the
children. This is simply not true. In his reasons for sentencing
the learned magistrate set out these personal circumstances of the
appellant; and we have no good reason to conclude that the learned
magistrate did not take these factors into account when considering
sentence, particularly when he set out what he considered to be
mitigating factors and what he considered to be aggravating factors.
It follows that this ground of appeal, too, has no merit. Indeed, to
focus on the personal circumstances of the accused (or appellant) at
the expense of the other aims of sentencing, e.g. the interests of
the community, is to distort the object and process of sentencing and
to produce, in all likelihood, a warped sentence. (See S
v Lister 1993 (2) SACR 228 (A) at 233H-I.)
 The third and last ground is formulated in the
The learned Magistrate erred in law or on the facts in failing to
take cognizance of the fact that the Appellant is a businessman with
a good income generating business and thus earns a living, placing
the Appellant in a position to pay a fine rather than to be
imprisoned directly which action will merely lead to the
deterioration of the appellant’s business interest leading further
to the Appellant and his children becoming a greater burden on
What I have said previously about the second ground of
appeal applies equally to this ground of appeal. Additionally, as I
said in S v Da Silva
Case No.: CC 15/2005 (Unreported) at p 15 -
In taking into consideration the interests of society, I must, in
this regard, impose a sentence that aims at punishing the accused and
at the same time serves to send a strong message that this sort of
crime is abhorrent and, therefore, society expects it to be met with
the full force of the law. (See S v Skenjana 1985 (3) SA 51
(A) at 55B-C); R v Karg 1961 (1) SA 231 (A) at 236 A-B; S v
Van Rooyen and another 1992 NR 165 at 188E-F; S
v Holder 1979 (2) SA 70 (A) (Head note).)
And in The State v Naftalie
Kondja Case No. CC 04/2006 (Unreported) at
p.4, relying on the authorities, I stated that in sentencing, the
penal element, particularly in serious offences, must come to the
fore and be properly considered if punishment is to continue to
have meaning in the criminal justice system.
And, as I say, the crime for which the appellant was convicted is a
serious offence. However, in the instant case, a strong and
compelling factor that should count in favour of the appellant is
that the appellant had refunded to the complainant the total amount
of money he had stolen from the complainant; that is, N$8,500.00,
being a half of the amount involved, which is N$17,000.00.
Consequently, I think we must show a measure of mercy (S
v Khumalo 1973 (3) SA 697 (A)) and exercise
our discretion towards interfering with the sentence imposed by the
trial court; for, I think a case has been made out for interfering
with the sentence.
 Accordingly, the appeal against sentence is upheld,
and the sentence is set aside and the following is put in its place:
24 months’ imprisonment, antedated to 13 August 2008,
of which 12 months are suspended for five years on the following
(a) That accused is not convicted of any offence
involving theft committed within the period of suspension.
(b) That each accused (i.e. the appellant and his
co-accused) compensates the complainant, Moses Sheetekela the sum of
N$8,500.00 through the clerk of court, Eenhana Magistrates’ Court,
on or before 31 December 2008.
ON BEHALF OF THE APPELLANT: Ms
Instructed by: LorentzAngula Inc.
ON BEHALF OF THE RESPONDENT: Adv.
H. J. Jacobs
Instructed by: Office of the