WINDHOEK - Windhoek High Court Judge Christi Liebenberg on Monday made true to his promise that he will not allow anymore-unnecessary delays in the long-running Teko trio trial when he refused an application for an adjournment by the state to secure several witnesses.
Teckla Lameck, her business partner Jerobeam Kongo Mokaxwa and Chinese national Yang Fan is accused of duping government through the Ministry of Finance to pay an inflated price of US$55 348 800 for scanners to be used at airports and border posts.
In fact, the state alleges, the price was inflated with an amount of US$12 828 800 meant as ‘commission’ for Teko Trading who facilitated the transaction.
Lameck and Mokaxwa alone face charges that they, while Mokaxwa was employed there and Lameck was the board chairman of Swapo owned company, Namib Contract Haulage, duped the company into buying them four tipper trucks valued at US$144 000.
The other charges - Lameck faces 18, Mokaxwa 12 and Yang 6 - relates to transgressions of the Immigration Control Act, the Prevention of Organised Crime Act and further contraventions of the Anti-Corruption Act.
They denied guilt on the charges. State Advocate Dominic Lisulo applied for a postponement to secure the attendance in court of five local witnesses who were subpoenaed, but were not in attendance, four Chinese nationals living outside the borders of Namibia, the former President Hifikepunye Pohamba and a Namibian official currently stationed in Cuba.
The five local witnesses excluding Pohamba did however turn up later at court, after the subpoenas were delivered personally, the court was told.
With regards to the Chinese nationals, the judge said, he is satisfied that there are no prospects of success to have the intended subpoenas served of the four Chinese nationals, or securing their attendance in court as witnesses in the foreseeable future and he found the basis relied on by the state in support of its application without merit.
According to the judge, various efforts made by the office of the Prosecutor-General, The Ministry of Justice, The Chinese Embassy and the Ministry of International Relations and Co-operation only revealed that the four Chinese nationals are no longer employed by Nuctech and are in the wind.
He went on to say there is no international agreement or formal arrangements between Namibia and China regarding exchange of witnesses in criminal court cases, on which the state can rely to secure the Chinese witnesses.
“There are no guarantees and giving the lack of interest shown by the foreign country on whose assistance is drawn, there is simply nothing to go on when looking at the prospects of success in obtaining the attendance of the four Chinese nationals as witnesses in this trial,” the judge said and continued: “It further boggles the mind why the office of the Prosecutor-General would insist in getting subpoenas served on four Chinese nationals whose current whereabouts has been unknown since 2018.”
With regards to former President Pohamba, Judge Liebenberg said the state knew well in advance they need to warn the office of Pohamba at least two months in advance that they will need him to testify which they miserably failed to do.
Pohamba was then ruled out as a witness in this case.
He had almost the same sentiments with regards to witness Hendrik Goagoseb, the former permanent secretary at home affairs, who is now attached to Namibia’s Diplomatic Mission in Cuba.
According to the judge, the failure of the prosecution to secure the availability of this witness hints at remissness on the part of the prosecution.
This remissness, the judge said, is gross and weighs heavily against the prosecution’s application for postponement.
He further said that when looking at the reasonable and legitimate needs and concerns of the accused persons, it is compelling to take into account that this matter is on the court’s roll for several years and even more compelling is that Yang is a Chinese national who has been forced to remain in Namibia due to his bail conditions.
He is obviously without income and it is not known how he makes his living, the judge said and any undue delay would impact severely on his personal circumstances.
He went on to say that the court is alive to the seriousness of the charges and the huge public interest in the matter, but has come to the conclusion that it would not be advantageous, proper or suitable to adjourn the matter at this stage, as it would not be in the interest of justice.
The trio is represented by Sisa Namandje and the case will continue today.
2019-09-11 07:55:49 12 days ago