WINDHOEK - The lengthy murder trial of three City Police cops accused of beating a 17-year-old suspect to death stalled yesterday when the State said it will request the Supreme Court to clear up a conundrum it faces.
Judge Dinah Usiku previously prevented the State, represented by Advocate Cliff Lutibezi, the opportunity to cross-examine a witness it did not call, but which the defence called. At the time the defence counsels claimed the State had extensively consulted with the witness before it decided not to use him and as such is in a privileged position. Judge Usiku at the time agreed with the defence counsels and barred the State from cross-examining the witness.
However, yesterday, Lutibezi lodged an application to cross-examine the witness and when Judge Usiku refused his application on the premises that she already ruled on the issue and cannot revisit her ruling, Lutibezi said he will seek the indulgence of Namibia’s highest court to give clarity on the matter. While Lutibezi did not indicate what form the indulgence will take, it is understood the prosecutor general will ask the Supreme Court for a special review on the matter.
The City Police cops are on trial for the murder of Mandela Ramakhutla who was just 17 at the time of his death.
Johannes Shetekela Werner, 32, Kleopas Shikalepo Kapalanga, 30, and 35-year-old Elia Nakale are charged with kidnapping Ramakhutla and continuously assaulting the 17-year-old while driving around with him handcuffed, thereby causing his death eight days later in Katutura hospital.
The alleged kidnapping was the result of them suspecting Ramakhutla of being involved in the theft of laptops and cellphones at the City Police head office and their subsequent investigation, it is stated in the indictment the accused face.
They face charges of murder, kidnapping and defeating or obstructing the course of justice.
They pleaded not guilty to all charges at the start of their trial. It is alleged they killed Ramakhutla by assaulting him all over his head and body and handcuffing him, and letting him fall down or throwing him on the ground, causing him to die in Katutura hospital on April 24, 2013 as a result of his injuries.
Police officers who received Ramakhutla in their care after the accused asked them to lock him up for theft testified the accused told him he was drunk and faking injuries when they were questioned about his condition.
Various witnesses testified they saw the 17-year-old deceased handcuffed and in a bad condition in the company of the three City Police officers accused of his murder.
Boris Isaacks represents Werner, Willem Visser acts for Kapalanga and Kadhila Amoomo is on record for Nakale, all private instructions through the City of Windhoek.
The trial was remanded to October 1 for the Supreme Court decision and all three accused were remanded on bail.