The application for discharge, lodged by the remaining seven treason accused persons in the longest-running trial in the history of Namibia, was dismissed yesterday by
Windhoek High Court acting Judge Petrus Unengu.
The judge ordered that Progress Kenyoka Munuma (59), Shine Samulandela (52), Manuel Manepelo Makendano(66), Alex Sinjabata Mushakwa (55), Diamond Samunzala Salufu (58), Frederick Isaka Ntambila (54) and John Mazila Tembwe (51) have a case to answer.
Hoster Simasiku Ntombo (56) was released after the Supreme Court found he was illegally abducted from Botswana by the security forces.
They were first convicted and sentenced to jail terms ranging from 30 to 32 years by the late justice John Manyarara in 2007.
The convictions and sentences were, however, set aside by the Supreme Court on appeal in July 2013 and ordered to start afresh before a new judge.
The seven accused, arrested between July 2002 and December 2003, have been in custody now for the past 19 years.
They are accused of taking part in a conspiracy, aimed at overthrowing the Namibian government in the former Caprivi region between September 1998 and December 2003.
They face charges of high treason, murder, attempted murder, sedition, public violence and illegal importation of weapons and ammunition.
In his ruling, Unengu said there is sufficient evidence presented to the court to convict them of the charges or any other charges.
“Put differently, the state proved a prima facie case against you on all the charges preferred against you, except for the count of murder, which I found accused one and two not guilty and discharge them.”
The judge said he is not satisfied that the State did not manage to establish a prima facie case in respect of the murder of Victor Falali, with which Munuma and Samulandela were charged. He said the evidence fell short of establishing that either men were responsible for his death – and as such, they deserve the benefit of the doubt and stand to be acquitted on that charge.
However, Unengu stated that it was established that all of them took part in the activities designed to secede the then Caprivi (now Zambezi) from the rest of Namibia.
“You had a duty to report to the authorities of what was going on, but you failed to do so. Instead, you either assisted or took part yourselves in carrying out these covert and overt acts.”
He further said no evidence was placed before court that any of them were forced, coerced or cheated in taking part in the fight.
In the end, the judge said, he is satisfied the accused had a case to answer and thus dismissed the application for discharge.
The accused will be back in court on 12 July to present their case and they remain in custody at the Windhoek Correctional Facility’s section for trial awaiting inmates.
Ilse Aggenbach and Gorg Neves represent the accused, while Lourens Campher is the prosecutor.
Still behind bars… The remaining treason accused.
Photo: Roland Routh