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Parliament rubbishes LPM framing claim

2021-07-26  Albertina Nakale

Parliament rubbishes LPM framing claim

The Office of the Speaker has vehemently denied that it had anything to do with a pistol that was allegedly found in the bag of lawyers representing two LPM National Assembly members.

The Speaker, who has until today to provide a full explanation for the alleged incident, said in a statement issued yesterday that the allegations that there is a deliberate effort to frame members of parliament or members of the public is devoid of any truth. 

The director in the Office of the Speaker, Simon Uirab, yesterday said they received the letter from the lawyers.

“We received the letter, and we are going to respond through our lawyers in accordance with the timeframe by Mr Kauta,” he added.

 “We remain an institution of a democratic state, which has a mandate to facilitate participatory parliamentary democracy. We, therefore, strongly reject these allegations as misleading with the contempt it deserves. We are alarmed by the fact that Mr Kauta and Ms Kuzeeko did not take the opportunity to raise the matter when they appeared before the committee of privileges on Tuesday, 20 July 2021. The letter containing these allegations from Mr Kauta and Ms Kuzeeko was delivered at the end of business on Thursday, 22 July 2021, and will be responded to accordingly,” the statement read.

On Thursday, lawyers Patrick Kauta and Mercy Kuzeeko, who are representing Landless People's Movement (LPM) leaders Bernadus Swartbooi and Henny Seibeb, wrote to National Assembly Speaker Peter Katjavivi that a pistol was detected by a screening machine in their bag at the entrance of the parliament building on 20 July 2021. 

The incident happened at approximately 08h50 as they entered to appear at a hearing on behalf of their clients.

Kauta said upon entering the building, they were required to place their bags in the security screening machine, which was manned by two uniformed police officers. 

“We were bewildered upon being informed, by one of the aforementioned police officers, that the security screening machine was reflecting that one of our bags contained a pistol. Upon informing the police officers that neither of us had a pistol in our possession, the police officer allowed Mr Kauta to view the screen. The screen showed that there was a pistol at the bottom of Mr Kauta’s court bag. Mr Kauta emptied his court bag whilst it was still on the conveyer belt, but the security screening machine continued to show, on the computer, that there was a pistol in the bag. Both Mr Kauta and the police officer were confounded by this impossibility,” reads the lawyer’s letter to Katjavivi.

They also wrote that two male officers, in plain clothes, materialised and one of them cryptically informed the confused police officer that he could let the duo go, and also that he would explain to him later.

Once the lawyers had passed the screening room, they say they were taken to a boardroom, where they allege that Uirab kept enquiring about the whereabouts of Swartbooi and Seibeb. 

“Yesterday [Wednesday], during the hearing at the Supreme Court of Namibia, your counsel turned a vires issue into our clients being a security threat to other members in the Chamber. Are his submissions a coincidence, bearing in mind the abovementioned events that transpired the previous day? We wonder whether the fictitious pistol was meant to frame our clients upon their attendance at the hearing of 20 July 2021 to buttress your counsel’s submissions. Fortunately, they did not attend (on our advice) as they were not subpoenaed. Kindly provide us with a full explanation by close of business on Monday, 26 July 2021,” the lawyers demanded. 

The LPM’s acting national spokesperson Eneas Emvula remarked that the enquiry about the physical absence of Swartbooi and Seibeb by Uirab at the recent hearing left much to be desired as that particular session could have been an orchestrated trap for the two leaders and the LPM political party’s base at large.  “Parliament should never be used now nor in future as a place where SWAPO should attempt to incriminate opposition parties that simply are against the current authoritarian government. This oblivious development has brought forth questions and demands for an immediate response from Katjavivi,” he demanded.  The LPM wants Katjavivi to put it on official record that parliament’s security detail do not pose a threat to all four of its members, and the two national leaders of LPM in particular. 

In the absence of such, Emvula said their members will resort to vacating their offices at the parliament building until the security issue is rectified and officially communicated to them via their operative secretary, as a duly elected opposition party of parliament. –

2021-07-26  Albertina Nakale

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