Treason judgement deferred

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Treason judgement deferred

The remaining seven men accused of trying to secede the then Caprivi Strip from Namibia in 1999 must wait another two months to hear their fate. 

Windhoek High Court Acting Judge Petrus Unengu on Monday informed the accused that he is not ready with the judgement, and will only deliver it on 29 July. 

Progress Kenyoka Munuma (62), Shine Samulandela (55), Manuel Manepelo Makendano (69), Diamond Samunzala Salufu (59), Alex Mushakwa (59), Frederick Isaka Ntambila (57), and John Mazila Tembwe (54) face charges of high treason, murder, attempted murder, sedition, public violence and the illegal importation of weapons and ammunition. 

The accused 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 in July 2013, and the trial was ordered to start afresh before a new judge. 

The eight accused, who were arrested between July 2002 and December 2003, have now been in custody for the past 21 years, pending the finalisation of their trial. 

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

Acting Judge Unengu already dismissed a section 174 application that the accused lodged after the State closed its case, and ruled that they have a case to answer. 

The accused denied ever being involved in the attacks in Katima Mulilo, or planning it with anyone. State advocate Laurens Campher, who took over the trial last year, told acting Judge Unengu that the State proved the allegations against the accused beyond a reasonable doubt, and that they should be convicted as such. 

He, however, conceded that the counts of sedition and public violence are a duplication of the main count of treason. 

He submitted that some of the accused made confessions, which they now dispute. This, he added, makes them dishonest. 

Furthermore, he said, the accused collectively lodged a special plea against the jurisdiction of the High Court to try them as they claimed the former Caprivi Strip, present-day Zambezi region, was never part of Namibia. 

They lost that plea. 

Campher reiterated that the State has adduced a very strong case against the accused. 

Defence lawyers Ilse Aggenbach and Jorge Neves, who act for the accused on instructions of the Legal Aid directorate, argued that the State failed to prove the allegations against their clients. They asked acting Judge Unengu to acquit the accused. The accused remain in