WINDHOEK – The bail appeal of a former paramedic in the Namibian Defence Force (NDF), accused of shooting his girlfriend and mother of his three-year-old daughter, was dismissed by a Windhoek High Court judge.
Johannes Neuaka, 40, appealed the decision of Magistrate AB Okamaru not to release him on bail for fear that he might interfere with witnesses and that he is a danger to society.
Acting High Court Judge Petrus Unengu agreed with the decision of the magistrate and noted that at face value, he is satisfied that there are no grounds upon which the high court can interfere with a ruling of the magistrate’s court based on the premise that the lower court exercised its discretion wrongly when it refused bail.
According to Judge Unengu, the onus was on the appellant to prove on a balance of probabilities that he should be released on bail, which he failed to discharge.
The judge further said it has become norm in bail appeals that the nature of the crime alleged to have been committed and the strength of the State’s case are extremely relevant at the stage when bail is considered.
“The appellant faces a count of murder read with the provisions of the Domestic Violence Act, which in no doubt, if found guilty, would attract a considerable heavy imprisonment sentence,” Judge Unengu stressed.
Neuaka faces a charge of murder read with the provisions of the Domestic Violence Act, a charge of possession of a firearm and ammunition without a licence and a charge of negligent discharge of a firearm.
All charges are in connection with the death of his ex-girlfriend whom he allegedly shot in the head on January 21, 2016. During the original bail application, Neuaka told the court that the deceased, Zya Juliet Shane Rittmann, 25, was shot accidentally when she grabbed the arm he was holding the forearm with.
However, Judge Unengu said, it is the duty of the court to take into account factors such as the seriousness of the offences for which the appellant is charged, which could result in heavy sentences being imposed, which could tempt him to abscond.
The judge further remarked that although Neuaka did indicate that on a previous conviction of theft of a motor vehicle he did stand his trial, this time around the charge is much more serious compared to theft.
“Though the appellant is entitled to apply for bail, it must always be noted that there is no automatic right to bail,” the judge said and continued: “It therefore follows that the refusal of bail does not deprive the appellant of his right to liberty contrary to the Constitution.”
According to Judge Unengu, the magistrate’s court had the discretion to exercise to either grant or refuse to admit Neuaka on bail and it chose the latter.
He went on to say he is therefore not persuaded by Neuaka that the magistrate’s decision to refuse bail was wrong.
The State was represented by Advocate Erich Moyo and Neuaka by Mbanga Siyomunji.