Breastfeeding inmate refused bail


WINDHOEK – The woman who breastfed her infant in front of Judge President Petrus Damaseb not too long ago, prompting him to enquire about the possibility of granting her bail, was refused bail in the Windhoek High Court yesterday by Judge Collins Parker.

Judge Parker said that he would make his reasons for refusing bail known not later than November 30 this year. Johanna Lukas and her co-accused Gwen Nelwembe face various charges of trafficking in persons, rape, soliciting or enticing a minor to commit a sexual or an indecent or immoral act on several occasions. Lukas faces 11 counts and Nelwembe 2 counts. The State alleges that Lukas and Nelwembe offered the minor girls up for sale to a Swakopmund resident during April, May and June last year for sex under coercive circumstances. New Era reported extensively about Lukas who gave birth to a healthy baby boy in August this year after spending more than ten months in custody. An internal investigation was then launched to determine how she became pregnant while in custody, but despite repeated inquiries the findings of the probe remain under wraps and efforts to get hold of anyone in the Police Media Relations Department have also failed as office numbers went answered, while mobile phone numbers remained unreachable. Likewise efforts to get comment from the Narraville Police Station proved unsuccessful as the Station Commander, Sergeant Uatunga Katjivena, referred New Era to a Inspector Gurirab or Sergeant Iita, but the number he provided always had a busy signal. Lukas’ relatives tried to arrange legal representation for her, but their efforts were put paid to by the lack of funds. The lawyer whose services they had contracted initially, Werner van Rensburg from Metcalfe Attorneys withdrew after arranging for the bail hearing leaving Lukas to fend for herself. The State represented by Innocencia Nyoni strenuously objected to Lukas being granted bail, citing fears of interference with the investigation. Nyoni told Judge Parker that the location where both Lukas and the complainants reside is a relatively small area and it would be easy for Lukas to get in contact with the complainants whose ages are 13, 14 and 18. Margaret Richter, a social worker, who is closely linked to the case told Judge Parker that the 13-year-old was the one who exposed the two women, and added: “I think it was only because she did not get paid.” According to her testimony: “That one was a very cheeky one,” and continued that it appeared to her that the girl was rather enthralled by the unfolding case. On the other hand she said the 14-year-old was very much traumatised and confessed to her that she is afraid of Lukas. A social worker for the Department of Prisons, Antoinette Platt, also gave evidence and told the court that the cells for trial-awaiting prisoners at Walvis Bay Prison where Lukas is incarcerated with her baby are well suited for a mother and baby. She further said Lukas and her baby are kept in a single cell and that prison authorities provide her basic necessities such as nappies, baby formula and bottles.

During her testimony Lukas informed the court that she also has two other children aged three and one who are being looked after by her younger sister who just completed Grade 12. Lukas also informed the court that she wants bail in order to be able to look after her children and to enable the sister a chance to look for a job. She further said that she wishes to return to work since her previous employer promised that she could get her job back. That she said would enable her to assist her own mother, who recently lost her job and is now selling kapana to make ends meet, while her father is also unemployed. Lukas is scheduled to make a next pre-trial appearance on January 23 next year and Judge Parker strongly advised her to get legal representation before that time.


By Roland Routh


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