- A transsexual shop owner was murdered this week in Okahandja, a town some 70 kilometres north of Windhoek, the capital of Namibia. First eyewitness and police reports indicate that the killing was not a hate crime but rather an ordinary robbery. No arrests have yet been made.
A reclusive Okahandja resident, Karel (Kallie) Carstens, age 41, was murdered Wednesday morning, apparently for the small change from the tuck shop he operated from home.
Warrant Officer James Matengu confirmed that the victim's brother discovered the body when he returned from work on Wednesday afternoon. Eyewitnesses said the small house was in a state of chaos, with broken furniture and glass leading from the lounge to the bedroom.
The victim's brother Johan, who is employed with Namibia's Ministry of Works, Transport and Communication, found his brother covered with a blanket in the tuck shop, with hands and feet tied. He tried to resuscitate his brother and even summoned his parents to assist before they realised that the victim was dead, neighbours said.
Eyewitnesses at the crime scene said the victim was tied up with cords cut off from electrical appliances, with one cord tied tightly around his neck. "His face was totally swollen up, like Kallie had been strangled with some force," one eyewitness said. "There must have been more than one attacker, because it looks like Kallie put up a hell of a fight."
Neighbours said the victim, who lived as a transsexual and preferred to be known as "Karlien", must have known his attackers, as there was no sign of forced entry in to the small house. The victim survived a similar attack a few months ago by two or three persons who tried to rob the small tuck shop he operated.
Annelie Grobler, an estate agent whose home office is only a few metres away from where the body was found, said she noticed by mid-morning on Wednesday that the victim's pet dog and cat did not seem to want to go into the house. "But I was busy, I did not think anything was wrong. All the doors were closed, and the curtains at the tuck shop window were also drawn close, which was little odd," Ms Grobler said.
It was only when she was summoned from her daily afternoon walk by the police that she realised her neighbour had been brutally murdered - "for small change, a video recorder and a cell phone," Ms Grobler said.
There were no indications so far of a possible hate crime against "Karlien", a possibility mentioned by neither the neighbours nor the police at Okahandja. Hate crimes against sexual minorities are not frequent in Namibia, but government officials a few years ago made hate speeches against gays and lesbians, leading to demonstrations against homosexuals organised by the ruling SWAPO party.
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