Treason trial on last stretch

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Treason trial on last stretch

The trial of seven men accused of trying to secede the then Caprivi Strip from Namibia in August 1999, is in its last stretch in the Windhoek High Court operating from the Windhoek Correctional Facility. 

State advocate Laurens Campher, who took over the trial last year, is busy with his submissions on why the accused should be convicted.  

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 charges stem from an alleged failed attempt to secede the then Caprivi from Namibia.

Campher told Windhoek High Court Acting Judge Petrus 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, now the 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, will give their oral submissions afterward.

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, arrested between July 2002 and December 2003, have been in custody now 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.

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 that they were ever involved with the attacks on Katima Mulilo, or that they planned it with anyone.

The matter is continuing, and the accused remain in custody. –