WINDHOEK – Accused number two in the “comet-watcher murder case”, Festus Nepembe Kiimba (34) yesterday also professed ignorance about the events that took place on the night of the murder.
Answering questions from his defence counsel, Winnie Christiaans, Kiimba, denied being at Goreangab Dam on the fateful night of the murder on January 18, 2007 and taking part in the robbery that claimed the life of Swiegers, who was at the dam with his friend Georgivis Pierre Isaaks and his daughters, Raygene and Nicole Isaaks to view and photograph Comet McNaught, which was said to be the brightest comet to be visible from Earth in more than 40 years,
He further denied having made any statements to the police officers who arrested him, instead claiming that he was beaten and dragged almost fifteen metres, while they kept on asking him about a firearm that he knew nothing about.
“I never in my life possessed or had in my possession a firearm” he repeatedly told Judge Alfred Siboleka in the High Court where the murder trial is taking place. According to Kiimba, he was arrested in the early morning hours of February 03, 2007, while sleeping at his friend Thomas Nambahu’s house in the Havana Informal Settlement.
However, Judge Siboleka already ruled that statements in which the three accused Festus Nepembe Kiimba, Max Kleopas and Josef Taukondjo Shikongo are claimed to have confessed their involvement in the crime are to be part of the evidence in their trial.
The three suspects’ defence lawyers objected to the statements being used as evidence in the trial, claiming that these were not made freely and voluntarily and that their clients were threatened and assaulted by police officers, and that their rights were not explained to them properly before they made the statements.
It is improbable that the magistrate would have sat alone with an interpreter and then have written a statement alone, Judge Siboleka said in his ruling.
He rejected Kleopas’s evidence on this score as lies.
During the trial within a trial on the admissibility of the statements Judge Siboleka also heard that a firearm was found hidden under a carpet in Kiimba’s room when he was arrested.
Judge Siboleka also rejected Kiimba’s claim of having been assaulted by police officers as an afterthought. He further rejected Shikongo’s claim that he, too, never actually made a statement to the police officer who recorded his alleged confession, and ruled that it was indeed Shikongo who had made such a statement.
The trial continues today with Shikongo to face cross-examination by the State Prosecutor. All three suspects remain in police custody.