WINDHOEK - Mbanga Siyomunji, the lawyer for Lukas Nepela Nikodemus – his third one after Milton Engelbrecht and Jan Wessels – withdrew yesterday from the double murder trial citing lack of trust between him (the lawyer) and his client as the reason.
Siyomunji told Windhoek High Court Judge Christi Liebenberg he is no longer comfortable representing Nikodemus as the latter accused him of working against him and trying to bury him.
Nikodemus is charged with the murder and burning of two young women at a rubbish dump near Pionierspark suburb in Windhoek.
Siyomunji also told the court that Nikodemus accused him of not bringing up the issue of “Bennie” already during the pre-trial stages of the trial to which Siyomunji asserted that he was not the lawyer on record during that stage.
Bennie is the person accused by Nicodemus of having killed the two women but this was however dismissed by Acting Judge Petrus Unengu as an “afterthought” during his bail hearing.
Judge Liebenberg accepted Siyomunji’s withdrawal from the matter and postponed the trial to May 22 in order for Nikodemus to apply for another lawyer from legal aid.
Nikodemus is facing two counts of murder, one count of defeating or obstructing or attempting to defeat or obstruct the course of justice and one count of failing to lock away a firearm.
He pleaded not guilty to all counts at the start of his trial in September last year, but did not provide a plea explanation and put the onus on the State to prove all the allegations against him.
The State alleges Nikodemus, 48, killed 29-year-old Johanie Naruses and 23-year-old Clementia de Wee by shooting them with his pistol whereafter he burned their bodies at a dumpsite near Pionierspark in Windhoek during the period January 6 – 7, 2016.
Their partly burned bodies were found by a security guard the morning of January 7, 2016 and Nikodemus was arrested the same day after a SIM card that linked him to her was found in the back pocket of the jeans of one of the deceased.
During his first appearance in the magistrate’s court, Nikodemus told the magistrate he did not know how to plead as he had no recollection of what had happened.
He maintains that the last time he saw either of the two girls he called his “girlfriends” alive was during the evening of January 6, 2016 when they left together with “Bennie” in his car to buy more alcohol.
He further vehemently denied assertions by police officers that were part of the team that arrested him that he admitted to them that one of the ladies killed the other one and that he then killed her.
The State is represented by Advocate Cliff Lutibezi and Nikodemus remains in custody at the Windhoek Correctional Facility’s section for trial-awaiting inmates.