High Court Judge Christie Liebenberg yesterday granted leave to local lawyer Braam Cupido to withdraw as the legal representative of American Marcus Thomas, accused of the assassin-like murder of Andre Heckmair in Windhoek in 2011.
This came after Thomas informed the court in a five-page declaration that he was unhappy with Cupido’s services. According to Thomas, he had no substantial consultations with Cupido after two brief consultations when the lawyer was first appointed by Legal Aid.
“Currently, I only meet with Mr Cupido on an ad-hoc basis during court sessions,” he said.
He further accused Cupido of not executing instructions, which has led to a total breakdown in trust. Cupido, although he dismissed the allegations against him as false, conceded that a breakdown in trust developed between him and Thomas.
According to him, the instructions by Thomas are mostly untenable – and when he points it out to him, he does not wish to accept his advice.
Thomas further said that he has already, in October last year, indicated his desire to have alternative legal counsel provided to him.
According to him, his efforts to contact legal aid was thwarted to the extent that he had to seek redress during a civil suit in which he sues the government and Correctional Services for damages.
During that matter, Judge Hannelie Prinsloo granted him an order for the prison authorities to take him to legal aid.
The director of legal aid, Patience Daringo, told the court that they are willing to assist Thomas with another legal representative but that it is difficult to find someone willing to assist Thomas, as his reputation has preceded him.
Thomas already had eight lawyers representing him before Cupido.
Thomas and Kevin Townsend, his co-accused, are accused of killing Heckmair with a single gunshot in his head on January 7, 2011, at Gusinde Street in Windhoek and robbing him of his cell phone and wallet containing at least 100 Swiss francs.
They 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.
Mbanga Siyomunji, who is representing Townsend on private instruction, informed the court that although he is not happy with the delay, there is nothing he can do about it.
Similarly did deputy prosecutor general Antonia Verhoef.
Judge Liebenberg adjourned the proceedings to 23 March for legal aid to find another lawyer to represent Thomas.