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Chinese bribery appeal falls at first hurdle

2019-04-30  Roland Routh

Chinese bribery appeal falls at first hurdle

WINDHOEK - Two Chinese nationals who admitted in the Windhoek Magistrate’s Court that they attempted to bribe a police officer with N$4 000, failed at their attempt to have their conviction and sentence of two years direct imprisonment overturned on Friday in the Windhoek High Court.

Siyong Xu, 55, and Huaifen Yang, 54, pleaded guilty on a count of corruptly offering or giving gratification to an agent as an inducement, a charge under the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC).

The two were arrested on September 5, last year at the Old Power Station, Windhoek in a sting operation staged by the ACC after they attempted to bribe a detective inspector of the Anti-money Laundering and Combating of Financing of Terrorism Division of the Namibian police with N$4 000.

They offered the guilty plea in the hope of getting a fine only. Windhoek High Court Judge Dinnah Usiku with Judge Christi Liebenberg concurring struck the matter from the roll because according to them there is no prospect for success. 
The pair who were represented in the appeal by Sisa Namandje after they fired their previous lawyer, Mbanga Siyomunji, argued that they did not receive a fair trial as the confessions they submitted did not contain all the elements of the offence they are said to have committed.

The magistrate’s court, they said, committed an error when it accepted their plea and convicted on that basis. According to Judge Usiku, it is evident from the record of proceedings that the Chinese were aware of their right to legal representation and that they appointed such legal practitioner and were thus bound to the actions of that legal practitioner who they instructed.  At no stage during the trial did they raise any issues containing their legal representation, she said. She said that she is unable to find that the two Chinese did not receive a fair trial and that they were wrongly convicted on their pleas of guilty.

She said they explicitly declared without ambiguity that they were guilty of the offence of corruptly offering as gratification to an agent the amount of N$4 000 as an inducement to stop investigations of money laundering.
With regards to the sentence, the judge said she was not persuaded that it was shockingly or startlingly inappropriate or that the magistrate failed to exercise her discretion judiciously.

Judge Liebenberg agreed with the reasons of Judge Usiku, but added that the contention by the Chinese at this stage that they did not appreciate the wrongfulness or unlawfulness of their actions is without merit. He further said that if they entertained a notion that they did not appreciate the wrongfulness and unlawfulness of their actions, they should have brought it to the attention of their legal counsel and pleaded not guilty. 

They were sentenced by Magistrate Vanessa Stanley in the Windhoek Magistrate’s Court.
State Advocate Felicitas Sikerete-Vendura represented the prosecutor general in the appeal.

2019-04-30  Roland Routh

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