The lawyer of 28-year-old murder accused Tuhafeni Tomas withdrew from the trial yesterday due to what he termed unjustified interference in his cross-examination of a State witness by the presiding judge.
Vernon Lutibezi, who is representing Tomas on charges of murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances and defeating or obstructing the course of justice, told the court he is withdrawing from the trial, as the judge is derailing his cross-examination. He appeared before Windhoek High Court Judge Naomi Shivute.
Tomas is accused of killing and robbing Chinese national Yanhui Sun, who was his supervisor at a brickmaking factory in Rehoboth on 1 May last year by beating him with a brick on his head, stabbing him three times on his head, neck and back and tying his legs to his arms. He also admitted to stuffing cloth in the mouth of the victim, causing him to gag.
He admitted guilt on all charges at the start of his trial last week.
After Yuan Sheng Sun, the uncle of the victim in the matter gave his testimony in aggravation of sentence. Lutibezi started his cross-examination and wanted to know from the uncle who paid for the funeral expenses of the victim.
Sun explained the boss of his nephew, Lee, paid for the transportation of the remains to South Africa to be cremated, the cremation and the transport of the ashes to China.
He further testified he took the ash to China and the family organised, and paid for the funeral services there.
Lutibezi then wanted to know from the witness whether they had any expenses in relation to the funeral in Namibia, which is where the trouble started.
After the witness testified again that Lee paid for the transportation of the body, cremation and the transport of himself and the ashes to China, Lutibezi put it to him that the family of the victim did not have any expenses with regard the funeral in Namibia.
The witness again repeated his previous version, which caused Lutibezi to continue on this path until the judge stepped in and said the questioned was answered.
Lutibezi and the judge then started a two-way engagement with Lutibezi, insisting his question was not answered, whereas the judge insisted the question was answered. He then told the judge he is withdrawing from the matter and legal aid must be instructed to appoint another lawyer.
Before that, Sun testified the victim was married, and was a father of a 12-year-old boy and a three-year-old girl who still live in China.
He said the victim was the only breadwinner for his family and would send money to his wife every six months.
According to him, now that the victim is no more, the family is struggling to make ends meet.
According to him, the only person providing for the family is his elder brother, the father of the victim, who, according to him, is also struggling to provide for his family.
During cross-examination by the State, Ethel Ndlovu told Tomas his greed and callousness left the family of the victim destitute.
The judge then postponed the matter to 12 November for legal aid to instruct another lawyer to make submissions on the sentence to be imposed on Tomas.
Tomas remains in custody at the Windhoek Correctional Facility’s section for trial awaiting inmates.