WINDHOEK – Former Windhoek-based magistrate Riana Hileni Kavara is set to apply for a state-funded lawyer due to unavailability of funds to acquire a privately funded one.
Kavara made use of Kadhila Amoomo as her privately funded lawyer but says she can no longer afford the services of a lawyer on her own as she has not been employed since she was suspended as a magistrate in January 2016.
Kavara’s trial was scheduled to start yesterday in the Windhoek Regional Court, however such could not happen. During court proceedings, defence counsel Amoomo informed the court that they were not ready to proceed as Kavara had not paid her legal fees. Furthermore, he has not yet been properly instructed by the former magistrate thus the court should grant a postponement.
State prosecutor Advocate Dominic Lusilo objected to the notion, stating that the case has been on the court roll for many years and has been postponed numerous times.
Magistrate Mwilima Mwilima, hesitating about the postponement, informed the court that he was disappointed in the manner in which Kavara has handled the case. According to the court, Kavara had ample time to sort out her legal finances.
Court records indicate the trial was supposed to have started in 2017 but got postponed numerous times. Magistrate Mwilima noted that during the postponements, Kavara failed to inform the court that she was unable to pay her legal fees and thus needed a state-funded lawyer. Magistrate Mwilima set down the case for today for Kavara to apply for legal aid.
Kavara has been in court following her arrest in March 2017 in Rundu on charges of defeating or obstructing the course of justice, alternatively corruptly using an office or position for gratification and corruptly using a false document, which offences fall under the Anti-Corruption Act.
It is alleged that Kavara dug her own grave in 2015 when she at the time intervened in her boyfriend’s case. Kavara’s then-boyfriend Mohammed Shabani was facing a charge of dealing in cocaine and during his bail application Kavara took the stand and testified in his favour, so that he may be granted bail. Shabani’s bail request was later granted for which Kavara forked out N$50 000 for his release.
After being granted bail, Shabani disappeared and failed to make his court appearance in November 2015. The bail money was provisionally forfeited to the state and a warrant of arrest was issued against him.
Kavara then handed in an application to have her bail money returned to her after her boyfriend at the time became a fugitive from justice.
She allegedly later used her position as magistrate to alter the court records by making an entry ordering the reinstatement of Shabani’s bail.
Kavara was suspended after an investigation by the ACC found she had allegedly amended a case record and reinstated bail in the absence of a prosecutor and court interpreter. Following her suspension, Kavara later resigned from her position as magistrate.