OSHAKATI – Magistrate Leopoldt Hangalo yesterday laughed off claims he was bribed to acquit northern-based businessman Sindano Hango in the Oshakati Regional Court last year.
Angry demonstrators at Oshakati yesterday accused Hangalo of having been bribed to rule in favour of Hango at the conclusion of the rape trial.
The demonstrators also demanded Hangalo recuse himself from sentencing Hango next month, citing he was biased against the complainant.
The group asked that the matter be placed before another magistrate.
“Personally, I don’t know the accused. I don’t have contact with him. I knew him like any other accused in my court. Apart from the evidence that was presented in court, I do not know him. It is rubbish to say I was bribed,” Hangalo said when approached for comment. Hango was convicted of the same charges in the Oshakati High Court last month following an appeal by the State. He is scheduled to be sentenced on 16 April this year. Hangalo further refuted claims that he has a pending corruption case registered with the Anti-Corruption Commission, which the demonstrators charging that the case ACC-OSH-19-003027 was opened in 2019 after he allegedly accepted a bribe to acquit Hango. There was no immediate confirmation about the registered ACC case yesterday. “I am not aware of the charges against me and I want the complainant to come out with all the facts so that I can also follow up on the matter,” said Hangalo. In a petition read by Iyaloo Nkandi the demonstrators also wanted to know what happened to the case of the first investigating officer of the case who was allegedly also offered a bribe. In respect of Hango, the demonstrators asked that the court revoke his bail and for him to be remanded in custody until he is sentenced. “We are calling out to the minister of justice, minister of gender equality, the Office of the Prosecutor General and the inspector general of the Namibian police to ensure that curbing GBV should not just be mere talk and paperwork. Actions should speak louder than words,” read the petition. The demonstrators gave the chief magistrate’s office an ultimatum of seven working days to reply on all their demands, including the magistrate’s recusal from the case and revoking Hango’s bail. The demonstrators said having Hango roaming around is not in the interest of the complainant and the sympathising family members as it involves a loved one. “What could happen between now and the sentencing date, only God knows,” said the demonstrators.