RUNDU – Three men from Kavango West region, who were arrested on 13 November last year for illegally cutting grass in Angola, are still in custody in that country.
The three have not yet appeared in any court. The Angolan authorities are reportedly claiming transport issues are hindering the investigations against the three men. The two men hail from Sivara village, while the other suspect is from Kasivi.
The trio were initially arrested for entry or crossing the border to the Angolan side to cut grass illegally, but the charge later changed to arson when they got to a police station. Their names apparently appeared amongst the wanted people who were suspected to have burned a hut of a local headman in Angola, days prior to their arrest.
“I met with the investigating officer on Monday and he said they need to do thorough investigations thus they wanted to go down there where they were arrested,” said Namibia’s consul general in Menongue, Lucky Gawanab, who is responsible for Cuando Cubango, Huambo, Bie and Moxico province. Menongue is the capital town of Cuando Cubango Province in southern Angola.
“Police made a proposal with my office whether we can assist with transport to that area where the alleged crime happened for them to go do their investigations,” he said.
Gawanab told this reporter that the consulate couldn’t also take them because they will then end up taking them around for all the cases involving all Namibians.
“To us at the consulate, it doesn’t mean because they (suspects) are Namibians then they are innocent, they need to be proven innocent,” Gawanab noted.
“We can’t accept criminals, but for us everybody is innocent until proven guilty so if the police here can’t do anything in regards to investigations to prove if these people are guilty and if they can’t take them before the court, then they must release the people.”
Gawanab also announced there are about nine Namibians all together facing different charges ranging from murder to theft and arson. One of the suspects is a female who has been in custody since May last year.
“I also just learned about her now and that is one of the cases that I also need to take up,” he said. Gawanab also castigated the Angolan authorities for dumping Namibians at the consulate once found not guilty. “We have done it three times and now they are still doing it, they have to find a way to take them back but anyways we are fighting for them. It is not only these three guys, there are other Namibians here as well and we are fighting for them to be either tried or released,” he stated.