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Hostile witness refuses to take oath, acquiesces after stern warning

2019-03-27  Roland Routh

Hostile witness refuses to take oath, acquiesces after stern warning

WINDHOEK - One of the state witnesses in the trial of eight men still facing charges of high treason, murder, attempted murder, sedition, public violence, and illegal importation of weapons and ammunition, in the Windhoek High Court had to first receive a stern warning from Acting High Court Judge Petrus Unengu to take the oath to tell the truth and nothing but the truth.

Hoster Munuma, the younger brother of Progress Kenyoka Munuma, 57, accused 1 in the matter told the court when he was asked by the interpreter whether he had any objection to taking the prescribed oath that he never agreed to be a state witness in the matter and that he was severely assaulted to compel him to make a statement to the police.

Judge Unengu explained to Hoster that he could face jail time if he did not cooperate. The judge further explained to the witness that there are only two instances where he cannot be compelled to testify, which is either against a spouse or if he will incriminate himself. After the explanation by the judge, the witness reluctantly took the oath, but had to be warned again by the judge to answer the questions of the prosecutor, State Advocate Laurens Campher.
He then went on to explain the statement he made to the police.

According to him, his brother and another man called Vincent Sinasi came to his house during the early morning hours of November 19, 1999 and asked him to go to the induna and ask him to report them to the police so that they could be arrested as they did not want to go back to Botswana. 

He said that the next morning on his way to the village induna, he was stopped by the police who had surrounded his village accompanied by the army and told to go back to his hut. Upon enquiry, he was told by one Captain Shikongo that they were looking for “rebels” and told to stay with the police. 

His brother and Sinasi then ran for the bushes and the security forces opened fire on them, but he does not know if they were hit or not, Hoster told the judge, albeit reluctantly. 

He further narrated that the houses of the villagers were then searched and after that they gathered in the centre of the village. 

“The security forces then started to whip us indiscriminately, including the elderly, women and children,” he informed the court.  He was then loaded onto a Caspir (a military truck) where he was beaten continuously to tell them the whereabouts of his brother, Hoster said and added that he was then arrested and only released after 11 days in custody.    

Progress, Shine Samulandela, 52, Manuel Manepelo Makendano, 66, Alex Sinjabata Mushakwa, 55, Diamond Samunzala Salufu, 58, Hoster Simasiku Ntombo, 55, Frederick Isaka Ntambila, 54, and John Mazila Tembwe, 51 remain in the accused dock after the Supreme Court directed in July 2013 that their trial start afresh before a new judge after a successful appeal against their conviction and sentences.

They were first convicted and sentenced to jail terms ranging from 30 to 32 years by the late justice John Manyarara in 2007. 

That convictions and sentences were however set aside by the Supreme Court on appeal. 
The eight accused, arrested between July 2002 and December 2003, have been in custody now for the past 17 years. They are accused of taking part in a conspiracy aimed at overthrowing the Namibian government in the former Caprivi Region between September 1998 and December 2003.

They lost a special plea they lodged against the jurisdiction of the High Court to try them as they claimed the former Caprivi Strip, now the Zambezi Region was never part of Namibia. 

The case continues today. Ilse Aggenbach is representing Progress, Samulandela, Makendano, Mushakwa, Salufu and Ntambila while Jorg Neves is on record for Ntombo and Tembwe.

2019-03-27  Roland Routh

Tags: Khomas
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