Former police reservist Sakaria Kuutondokwa Kokule failed in his latest attempt to be released on bail after more than three years in pre-trial custody on a bribery charge.
Windhoek High Court Judges Dinnah Usiku and Herman January dismissed his appeal against the refusal of Windhoek Magistrate Linus Samunzala to release him on bail on 10 October 2022.
In his bail appeal, Kokule claimed Samunzala erred when he concluded that he will interfere with State witnesses, without tangible evidence to support that notion.
He said Samunzala also erred when he concluded that granting him bail would not be in the interest or administration of justice, without any evidence.
Kokule asked the High Court to set aside the bail ruling, and grant him bail in the amount of N$2 000.
He has been in police custody following his arrest on 23 January 2020 after he allegedly tried to bribe an Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) officer, Junias Ipinge, with N$250 000 to steal bank cards belonging to Fishrot accused James Hatuikulipi and Pius Mwatelulo. It is alleged that Jason Iyambo and Kokule worked in cahoots to attain two Investec banking cards issued to Hatuikulipi, who is in police custody.
The two men also wanted one Bank Windhoek card for Omvindi Investment CC, issued to Mwatelulo. In addition, the men required another Bank Windhoek card issued to Mwatelulo for Otuafika Logistics, as well as a document titled ‘Total Allocation’ from the Anti-Corruption Commission of Namibia (ACC), it is alleged. During his bail hearing, Kokule denied all allegations levelled against him by the State. In his defence, he claims to have been in Kamanjab when the bribery took place and now-convict Iyambo was arrested.
He admitted to having been the one who introduced Iyambo to Ipinge, but that he had no idea about the nature of their conversations. Thus, he had no knowledge of the bribe. When he heard of the arrest of Iyambo on 20 January 2020, Kokule said, he immediately contacted Ipinge, who told him to come to the ACC offices the following day to discuss his involvement.
At the time, he recalls being told that after giving a statement, he will possibly become a State witness, and not an accused. But all that changed on 23 January 2020 when he got arrested.
Consequently, he and Hatuikulipi are awaiting trial on charges ranging from corruptly giving gratification as an inducement, bribery or alternatively improperly influencing an authorised officer, and defeating or obstructing the course of justice. The two were initially charged alongside Iyambo, who was convicted and sentenced to nine months imprisonment after he confessed and admitted guilt to the charges. He was already released from custody in 2021.
In his plea statement, Iyambo implicated Hatuikulipi. According to Iyambo, Hatuikulipi asked him to obtain bank cards of a co-accused in the Fishrot case, Mwatelulo, and a handwritten document titled ‘Total Allocation’, which had also been seized by the ACC. In their ruling, Usiku and January held that the magistrate did not misdirect himself when he refused bail. “Having considered the magistrate’s ruling, the submissions by the appellant and respondent as well as the legal principles, the court is satisfied that here was no misdirection by the court a quo when it came to a conclusion and refused bail for the appellant,” the judges concluded.