One of the seven men standing trial for the second time in the Caprivi high treason case said he fled to Botswana because of being harassed by the police and army forces.
Testifying yesterday in the High Court, Progress Munuma (60) told acting judge Petrus Unengu that he managed to escape from the grasp of the police and army forces after requesting to relieve himself in the bush.
Munuma said he was first detained in October 1998 while on his way to visit his brother in Linyanti area.
During his detention, he was vigorously questioned three times about who he was, his tribe, what he did for a living and to which political party he belong.
“They did not beat me. But they intimidated me with their guns and they kept on saying that we the Mafwe people are boastful because we think we have huge chunks of land,” explained Munuma.
After informing the officials that he was a member of United Democratic Party (UDP), which was an affiliate of the Democratic Turnhalle Alliance (DTA), they allegedly said several things he did not like.
“They said, ‘why are you UDP people of Mishake Muyongo still voting for DTA, a party of the boers? You all should have been killed because, you have boers’ mentality’,” narrated Munuma.
He said he managed to escape and ran until he reached Linyanti River, where he swam and crossed the border into Botswana.
While in Botswana, he went to the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) to whom he narrated his ordeal.
“They told me that I was not alone. They also said that many Caprivians fled because they were in fear of the police and army’s harassment,” noted Munuma.
He, alongside others, was taken to Kasane police station where they were interrogated for the whole night of 28 October 1998.
“We were not detained but they kept us in a huge hall, where they interrogated us the whole night. They did not even give us anything to eat,” said Munuma.
The following day, they were allegedly taken to court but were not informed of the charges they were appearing in the magistrate’s court for. The presiding officer allegedly informed them he was tasked to issue a warrant of detention.
When they returned the next day, they were informed that they were each facing a count of illegal entry into Botswana.
He, Muyongo and 102 others, were released on bail. The United Nations Commissioner for refugees posted bail for all of them.
After some time, they were allegedly informed that the case against them was withdrawn.
According to Munuma, he was given refugee status in Botswana, where he lived at Dukwe Refugee Camp, until he was arrested in November 1999.
He was returned to Namibia in 2003 and was charged with high treason.
Munuma is being tried alongside Shine Samulandela (53), Manuel Manepelo Makendano (67), Alex Sinjabata Mushakwa (56), Diamond Samunzala Salufu (71), Frederick Isaka Ntambila (55), and John Mazila Tembwe (52).
They are charged with 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 the illegal importation of weapons and ammunition.
The charges stem from an alleged failed attempt to secede the then Caprivi (now Zambezi) from Namibia. They have all denied the allegations. The hearing is ongoing in the High Court.