KAHENGE- Ukwangali Traditional Authority Chief Daniel Sitentu Mpasi on Tuesday threatened to walk out of the Kahenge District Court, even without proper discharge, claiming that the defence counsel called him a “thief”.
The 73-year-old Mpasi made the threat in Kahenge during the illegal grazing case that is feared to be sparking ethnic conflict among the Owambo and Kwangali-speaking people.
Court officials had to intervene and inform the chief that it would do him no good should he decide to leave the courtroom without being properly discharged.
The ageing Mpasi felt insulted during cross-examination when defence lawyer Norman Tjombe asked the long-serving chief whether it was true that a certain Gabriel Nehange opened a criminal case against him for stealing a cow.
“Your worship, my heart is telling me that I must leave this courtroom because I cannot stand being called a thief. I am asking for the court to release me,” Mpasi requested.
Mpasi, who has been chief for the past 32 years, told the court that it was better if he left the courtroom and if the defence counsel wanted to report him to the “superiors – they can do so”.
Mpasi pleaded with Magistrate Victor Nyaso to intervene and requested Tjombe to be “more considerate”.
Nyaso reminded Mpasi that as a witness he was obliged to answer the questions posed by Tjombe, and if the question was beyond his capacity then he should tell the court.
Although the traditional leader refused to answer some of the questions posed by Tjombe, the seasoned lawyer reminded Mpasi that his rights as a chief ended at the “doorstep of the courtroom”.
An irked Mpasi then told Tjombe: “You are just here to collect money because you do not have land to give these people, therefore if I were you, I will let these people go.”
Tjombe also used a police statement allegedly signed in 2006 by the chief when he referred to the case as evidence.
The chief denied having signed the statement, saying someone forged his signature.
“Where is my stamp they put on all official documents that I sign, this is not my signature. If you want, call the police officers who were on duty to come and testify that I was indeed the one who signed this statement,” charged an irate Mpasi.
“We already gave these people land, about 60 kilometres by 100 kilometres to graze their cattle, but they still proceeded to illegally grab more land. What will be left for my people if I give away all the land?” Mpasi asked.