WINDHOEK - Chief Justice, Peter Shivute has denied a petition from eight persons still facing charges of high treason, murder, attempted murder, sedition, public violence, and illegal importation of weapons and ammunition directed at him to appeal a decision by Acting High Court Judge Petrus Unengu on the jurisdiction of the Namibian High Court to try them.
This now ostensibly paves the way for the retrial of Progress Kenyoka Munuma Munuma, 57, Shine Samulandela Samulandela, 52, Manuel Manepelo Makendano, 66, Alex Sinjabata Mushakwa, 55, Diamond Samunzala Salufu, 58, Hoster Simasiku Ntombo, 55, Frederick Isaka Ntambila, 54, and John Mazila Tembwe, 51 after the Supreme Court directed in July 2013 they should start afresh before a new judge.
They were first convicted and sentenced to jail terms ranging from 30 to 32 years by the late justice John Manyarara in 2007. Those convictions and sentences were however set aside by the Supreme Court on appeal.
The eight accused, arrested between July 2002 and December 2003 has been in custody now for the past 16 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 lost a special plea they lodged against the jurisdiction of the High Court to try them as they claimed the former Caprivi Strip, now the Zambezi Region was never part of Namibia.
Judge Unengu dismissed their claim in April this year and the State funded lawyer of the eight men, Illse Aggenbach petitioned the Chief Justice on their behalf to appeal the ruling.
In his judgment, Judge Unengu said the state has managed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the Caprivi Strip forms part of national territory of Namibia.
“This grants the court territorial jurisdiction and the prosecutor-general a competent title to prosecute the accused with the offences as listed in the indictment,” said Judge Unengu.
He pointed out it is common cause that the eight had applied and received Namibian identity documents. They even have been registered voters with Namibian voter’s cards, which indicates they are Namibian citizens.
The group argued that they attained such documents for the mere purpose to get services such as banking and to get their children registered into schools.
Munuma and his co-accused argued in their special plea that the now Zambezi Region did not form part of the German protectorate of South West Africa.
Therefore, it did not form part of Namibia when it became independent in 1990.
Unengu noted that Phil yaNangoloh, who was called by the defence as an expert witness, did not qualify to give expert evidence on the boundaries of Namibia.
“He might be an expert in another field but surely not on the boundaries of the then South-West Africa now the Republic of Namibia,” stated Unengu.
State Advocate Laurens Campher lamented the fact the eight men keep lodging court applications in order to delay prosecution.
According to him, they previously appealed, without success, their prosecution on the grounds that the court has no legal jurisdiction to prosecute them and that Namibia’s highest court has already decided that Namibian courts have jurisdiction over them.
The matter will now return to the High Court at the Windhoek Correctional Facility on September 24.