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Treason lawyer says system has gone to hell

2022-08-23  Roland Routh

Treason lawyer says system has gone to hell

Defence lawyer Jorge Neves has informed Windhoek High Court acting judge Petrus Unengu that he wishes to withdraw from the case of the remaining seven treason accused persons, in the longest running trial in the history of Namibia.

Neves told the judge yesterday that he is fed-up with the system in Namibia and that the system has gone to hell. Furthermore, he said, he has not been paid by the Department of Legal Aid for more than two years for services rendered to the treason accused.

The judge gave him a chance to cool off before taking such a drastic step, but he left while his client Alex Mushakwa (59) faced cross-examination from deputy prosecutor general Lourens Campher.

Mushakwa testified in his own defence when the trial resumed last month and vehemently denied that he was involved in the August 1999 uprising to secede the then Caprivi region from the rest of Namibia. According to him, he was in Botswana as a refugee at the time. He told the court that he worked first as a security guard in Francistown and later as a farmworker in Maun. It was during his stint as a farmworker that he was arrested by Botswana authorities for not being in possession of a permit that would allow him to work outside Dukwe Refugee Camp where he was stationed. That was what led to him being returned to Namibia and his continued incarceration and prosecution.

Mushakwa together with Progress Kenyoka Munuma (62), Shine Samulandela (55), Manuel Manepelo Makendano (69), Diamond Samunzala Salufu (59), Frederick Isaka Ntambila (57), and John Mazila Tembwe (54) face charges of high treason, murder, attempted murder, sedition, public violence, and illegal importation of weapons and ammunition. The charges stem from an alleged failed attempt to secede the then Caprivi from Namibia. 

They were first convicted and sentenced to jail terms ranging from 30 to 32 years by the late justice John Manyarara in 2007. Such 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 eight 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.

One of their co-accused, Hoster Simasiku Ntombo (59) was released after the Supreme Court found he was illegally abducted from Botswana by the security forces.

The judge dismissed a section 174 application the accused lodged after the State closed its case and ruled that they have a case to answer.

They also 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. The case continues today.  

2022-08-23  Roland Routh

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