Self-proclaimed prophet and founder of the House of Joy Ministries Jackson Babi was denied bail by the Windhoek Magistrate’s Court on Friday.
“The applicant was capable of interfering with state witnesses while still behind bars and there is no determination of what he could do should he be released on bail,” said magistrate Linus Samunzala.
There is evidence that he interfered with state witnesses when he attempted to bribe the investigating officer of his first case which involves charges of possession of two rhino horns, a firearm and ammunition without a licence. Six cell phones, which he used to contact the investigating officer, were also found in his prison cell.
During the bail hearing, investigating officer Daniel Katango told the court Babi contacted his colleague who is investigating his first case, allegedly to speak about being released on bail.
On 26 June 2020, a sting operation was carried out and Babi’s former co-accused Ananias Ananias was arrested with a bag containing N$13 000 cash and two cell phones.
Upon his arrest, Ananias informed the police that he works in the church as an usher. He explained he was instructed by Babi to deliver the money to the investigating officer, but he had no idea what the money was for. He further informed the police that the money came from the congregation offerings.
However, during the bail hearing, Ananias changed his version of events and testified that he was responsible for bribing the investigating officer. He testified that he came up with the idea and the money because he wanted Babi to be set free. He assured the court that Babi had no part in the illegal dealing.
Babi is, however, scheduled to stand trial on bribery charges for the alleged bribery attempt.
The prosecutor general decided not to prosecute Ananias for the crime due to lack of evidence.
Babi, in his second case, is charged alongside Frizans Naululu Dumeni. Both men have since denied any wrongdoing when they tendered a no guilty plea during their preliminary plea on 3 March.
They were arrested in May and form part of the group that was found to be in possession of rhino horns. According to police reports at the time, the group of eight men includes a police officer from the VIP protection directorate.
They stand accused of possessing or dealing in two rhino horns, hunting a rhinoceros that is protected by law and possessing a hunting rifle and ammunition without a licence.
The prosecution claimed that Babi and Dumeni were in possession or dealt in two rhino horns at Babi’s residence in Kleine Kuppe in Windhoek on 26 and 27 May 2020.
The alleged discovery of the horns, firearm and bullets also led to the arrest of Babi, Dumeni and two other suspects Alberto Mbwale and Joseph Matheus.
It is alleged the horns are linked to the poaching of two rhinos found dead and with their horns removed in the area of Gobabis in May. According to court records, Babi has a third case in the Gobabis Magistrate’s Court, where he faces charges of illegal hunting of specially protected game in the Gobabis district alongside Mbwale and Matheus. The prosecutor general has instructed that his cases be compiled for decision.
Babi is scheduled to appear in court on 16 April for the prosecutor general’s decision.