OSHAKATI – Confusion reigned yesterday in the Oshakati Regional Court, where a scheduled sentencing hearing of a businessman convicted of raping a relative was due to take place.
The state was ready to proceed with the sentencing of businessman Sindano Hango, who was in February convicted of rape in the Oshakati High Court.
However, his defence objected, saying they have already sought permission to appeal the conviction in the Oshakati High Court before acting Judge Danie Small.
To this, the state strongly questioned the appeal process undertaken by the defence, saying there were no grounds to appeal the conviction before sentencing.
Deputy prosecutor general Ruben Shileka, who is assisted by prosecutor Nelao Ya France, argued the defence had ample time to notify the state for the matter to be postponed, but they have not been forthcoming. Shileka said the present position of the case violates the right of the complainant to a fair trial. “A fair trial is not only applicable to the accused, but is also applicable to the state, society and the victim,” he reasoned. Shileka also lamented the prejudice being suffered, citing that the state has to pay witness fees for witnesses who have travelled from as far as Windhoek to come and testify. Hango’s lawyer, Nicky Ngula, who was acting on instructions from Kadhila Amoomo, argued that the final determination of this case lies elsewhere. “Why do you want to sentence somebody if we are already opposing the High Court decision? What we are saying is that you cannot sentence him while we are appealing to the Supreme Court,” Ngula said.
He stressed that the validity of the appeal and the prejudice alleged by the state can be addressed by the High Court. Ngula further argued that the matter cannot continue for sentencing as his client requires ample time to prepare for this. The High Court has set down 5 May for the parties to address the court on the prospects of the appeal application. If granted, the defence will be allowed to lodge an appeal to the Supreme Court. If not granted, the matter will revert back to the regional court for sentencing and finalisation. In the interim, the matter was postponed to 28 June for the High Court’s decision. “You have appealed the decision of the High Court. Pending the outcome of that appeal, my hands are cut off,” Hangalo said when he postponed the matter.
Meanwhile, in a weird outburst, Hangalo said in court that he was not intimidated by demonstrations held to protest against his earlier decision to acquit Hango of rape charges. In March this year, angry demonstrators at Oshakati accused Hangalo of having been bribed to rule in favour of Hango at the conclusion of the rape trial. The demonstrators had demanded that Hangalo recuse himself from sentencing Hango, claiming he was biased against the complainant.
Hangalo had laughed off the bribery allegations in an earlier interview with New Era, saying, “I am not intimidated by bribery and demonstrations.”
However, yesterday, much to the amusement of the prosecution team, he questioned whether he was the right person to sentence Hango following the allegations made against him.
Hango was initially acquitted of rape before Hangalo in the town’s regional court in 2019. But in February this year, the state successfully appealed against his acquittal, and the court found him guilty of rape. He was immediately granted bail of N$10 000 while awaiting sentencing. Hango raped his cousin in October 2014, and offered her a bribe of N$10 000 for her silence. The court heard that Hango also sent family members to talk her into withdrawing the case in exchange of N$10 000.