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Court exonerates stock theft accused after marathon trial

2019-07-24  Staff Report 2

Court exonerates stock theft accused after marathon trial

Steven Klukowski

KEETMANSHOOP- Magistrate Melissa Mungunda on Monday found three accused persons not guilty on charges of stock theft, seven years after their first court appearance in the Keetmanshoop Magistrate’s Court.

It has been previously alleged by the State that Antonius Swartz, Johannes Hangue, Hermanus Goagoseb (minor by that time) and Collin Brandt on 21 November 2012 at farm Wortel !Momexas in the Tses area, Keetmanshoop district unlawfully and intentionally stole stock, namely 12 goats valued at N$7 200.00 from Willem Barman which was the property and in lawful possession of him. The charge against the minor was however withdrawn at a later court appearance by the State.

According to court records, the remaining three accused persons then pleaded not guilty to the charges on 12 May 2016 whereby the matter has been remanded several times for reasons of unavailability and change of defence lawyers, public prosecutors and investigation officers being on leave, state witnesses not present and lastly the docket not available during these court appearances. 

“The law makes provision for the State to deem the State’s case to be closed if there is an unreasonably long delay and no good reasons are advanced for such delay,” Mungunda said during her ruling on 9 May 2019. She then postponed the matter until 22 July 2019 as a final remand for purposes of plea and trial.

During Monday’s court appearance, the State, represented by Frederick Van Der Colf informed the court that the docket was again not available since the current investigation officer, sergeant Moyo failed to obtain it. “I never had sight of this docket, neither was it under my control since I took over this case,” the investigating officer replied when probed by Magistrate Mungunda.

Defence lawyer Henry Van Zyl then requested the court that the three accused be discharged on all charges in terms of section 174 of the Criminal Procedure Act (Act 51 of 1977), as there was no evidence before court, which can found them guilty.   

As the State did not oppose the defence’s submission, Magistrate Mungunda then finally ruled, finding the three accused persons not guilty and discharged them whilst also making a court order that bail monies should be refunded to the respective depositors.

Section 174 of the Criminal Procedure Act (Act 51 of 1977) makes provision to “protect the accused from being prosecuted, when in actual fact ‘no’ connection between them and the offence has been established whatsoever.”    

2019-07-24  Staff Report 2

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