Former magistrate’s corruption case continues

Home Crime and Courts Former magistrate’s corruption case continues

WINDHOEK – The first witness in the trial of ex-magistrate Melaney Theron told Judge Nate Ndauendapo yesterday he recognised the handwriting in the ‘Court Book’ that authorized the withdrawal of various cases as that of Theron. 

“To the best of my knowledge, My Lord, that is the handwriting of the accused,” the Control Magistrate at the Oshakati Magistrate’s Court, Mikka Namweya, replied to a question from State Prosecutor Simba Nduna.

Namweya was testifying in the second day of the trial in the High Court in which Theron faces a mammoth 20 charges comprising seven counts of corruptly using her office or position for gratification, five counts of fraudulently concealing an offence – under the Anti-Corruption Act –  two charges of corruptly soliciting or accepting or agreeing to accept a bribe and six counts of defeating or obstructing the course of justice.

Namweya said one of the prosecutors at the Oshakati court he assigned to the traffic court, Franco Cosmos, had alerted him to the fact that some of the cases which were on the court roll for that day were already marked ‘withdrawn’ in the Court Book.

He said Cosmos still had the charge sheets on which nothing was indicated, but the Court Book had entries  marked “withdrawn” for four of the cases that were supposed to be heard on that day.

According to him, he then instructed Cosmos to proceed as normal with the cases and  Cosmos issued warrants of arrest for four accused.

Prior to that day, according to Namweya, he heard rumours that a certain “coloured magistrate is assisting traffic offenders”.

He said that as the rumours persisted and one of the clerks reported to him that people were flocking to the court and enquiring about Room 8 – which was the office of the accused – he decided to involve the Namibian Police.

Namweya said after he spoke to the police he was informed the accused was acquainted with a certain police officer in Oshakati and he became reluctant to work with the police for fear of a leakage.

He then wrote a letter to the Special Branch in Windhoek and two officers were seconded to Oshakati to assist in the investigation, Namweya informed the court.

After they consulted extensively, he said, it was decided to set a trap for Theron. The two police officers produced traffic tickets, which were mixed in with the authentic ones, but was not registered on the system. According to Namweya, the officers did not go to court and as was the “modus operandi” of the accused she called them that afternoon between 15h00 and 16h00.

According to the indictment, Theron was arrested on August 15, 2011 after she accepted an N$1 000 bribe from the two undercover police officers.

The state alleges Theron committed the offences at the Oshakati Magistrate’s Court where she was stationed between May 2011 and August 2011.

All in all it is alleged the former magistrate accepted money totaling N$6 600 from various people accused of various traffic offences, money which she used for her personal benefit.

The state further alleges Theron also cancelled warrants of arrest issued against the accused traffic offenders, while in some instances she recorded that cases against people had been withdrawn or that they had been cautioned after pleading guilty, when in fact the people never appeared in court.

In one instance, court documents show, Theron received N$500 as gratification from a certain Kalusha Werner Iitembu for cancelling a warrant for his arrest.

Theron was suspended with full pay and benefits until her resignation as a magistrate and is being represented by Garth Joseph. She is out on bail of N$7 000. The case continues today.

During the first day of the trial on Monday, Theron pleaded not guilty to all charges and  denied the accusations against her. She challenged the state to prove the allegations against her.


By Roland Routh