Salomon Kanyemba, the defence counsel for one of the American citizen’s accused of the assassin-like murder of Namibian André Heckmair in Windhoek in January 2011, yesterday accused a State witness of colluding with the State to fabricate evidence against his client.
Kanyemba flat-out accused Paulus Uukongo, an employee from Transworld Cargo, who imported a parcel for his client Marcus Thomas that contained what was supposed to be a table leg from Finland that his evidence in the trial was tainted with fabrications and lies. Uukongo was based at the Hosea Kutako International Airport at the time. Kanyemba based this on the differences between Uukongo’s verbal evidence in court and his written statement to the police.
While Uukongo claimed in his oral evidence that he witnessed Marcus open the parcel and extracted from it a piece of metal that looked like a table leg with one end a lid that can be taken of. He further said Thomas opened the lid and pulled out a hollow pipe from it halfway and then informed the customs official that was present that he is satisfied that his parcel was in order, although he did not mention this in his statement to the police.
Uukongo also narrated to the court that Thomas was together with his co-accused, Kevin Townsend, but in his statement, he only mentions Thomas. This also irked Kanyemba who said his client does not dispute collecting the parcel, but disputes that Townsend was with him. The witness was however adamant that what he narrated to the court was exactly what happened on 28 December 2010. He further said that the duo was there with a white City Golf with a flat tyre and he advised them to seek help at the car rental places at the airport.
When Kanyemba made this assertion to the witness, Windhoek High Court judge Christi Liebenberg wanted to know from him who exactly he is accusing and warned him to be careful of what he is saying as he is an officer of the court and cannot make unsubstantiated accusations.
Kanyemba then told the court that he made these claims on the evidence of previous witnesses (police officers) and the absence of the physical examination of the parcel in the statement of the witness.
The State is alleging that Thomas and Townsend travelled to Namibia with the express purpose of killing Heckmair because he was involved in a relationship with an ex-girlfriend of Thomas. It is also alleged that Thomas paid US$10 000 for bail in respect of Townsend who was in custody on gun charges in New York to travel with him for that purpose and that they imported two gun barrels and a silencer from Finland.
Thomas and Townsend are facing one count of murder, one count of robbery with aggravating circumstances, three counts of contravening the Ammunitions Act and one count of defeating or obstructing or attempting to defeat or obstruct the course of justice. The State alleges they killed Heckmair, who is the son of the owners of the Cattle Baron Steak Ranch, by shooting him assassin style in his head on 7 January 2011 at Gusinde Street in Windhoek.