Kandara’s Last Hours

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Inquest Begins on Death of Avid Kingpin By Kuvee Kangueehi Windhoek August 24, 2005, the day Avid investment Corporation chief executive officer Lazarus Kandara died from a gun wound a few metres away from the Windhoek Central Police Station entrance was relived yesterday in Court C of the Windhoek Magistrate’s Court. The tragic event unfolded yesterday as the wife of late Kandara, Christophine Kandara and her two sisters Evangeline Gurirab and Ndinelao Kalomo, as well as three other family members gave their testimony during the inquest, which started on Monday but whose proceedings were postponed to yesterday. Christophine Kandara was the first witness to take the stand and said soon after the Avid Inquiry adjourned on August 24 last year, she noticed that four men in civil clothes surrounded her husband. She said Dirk Conradie, a lawyer who was also dealing with the Avid Inquiry approached her and informed her that her husband was under arrest. “I was shocked and could not believe it because during the court proceeding there was no mention of arrest.” She said her husband’s lawyer Lucius Murorua confirmed the arrest and told her to bring some clothes and toiletries for her husband to the Windhoek holding cells. Narrating the events, Mrs Kandara further noted that when she arrived at the Windhoek Police Station with her two sisters and nephew Patrick van Wyk, they were informed that her husband was at Windhoek Central Prison and on his way back. She added that soon afterwards she received a call on her cell phone from her husband. “My husband told me that the police are being very nice to him and have given him the opportunity to go home and take a bath and have a meal at his house.” She added that she returned home and prepared porridge and meat for her husband, who arrived almost an hour later with three police officers in civilian clothes. “My husband hugged me while the police officers kept a close eye on us.” Mrs Kandara further noted that she offered her husband and three police officers food but the police officers refused to eat and only her husband had supper. “He then made two phone calls, one to his aunt and another to a lady from our prayer group.” Mrs Kandara, who at no time showed emotion during her testimony, added that afterwards she and her husband together with one of the police officers (a short damara speaking one – as she described him) went to the bedroom where the late Kandara took a bath. “Afterwards I started packing his cosmetics in his bag but could not pack in the roll-on and the spray because they were in a glass container.” Mrs Kandara also revealed that the policeman warned her that she should tell her husband not to do any funny things in jail. She said she went to get another roll-on in a plastic container from a room next door as well as a blanket. Mrs Kandara said the police officer advised him to wear warm clothes as it is very cold in the cells and Kandara put on a jersey underneath his pyjamas but refused to put on his socks. Dressed in black, Mrs Kandara said soon afterwards her sister arrived in the bedroom and told them that the police had called and that they should hurry up. “I was the first to leave the room, followed by the police officer and one of my sisters but my husband and my sister Gurirab remained in the room for a brief moment before they joined the rest of the group in the dining room.” She vowed that her husband did not carry anything to the car and the one police officer carried the cosmetic bag while her sister-in-law and nephew carried the two blankets to the car. She said outside she hugged her husband, who asked her to take good care of the children. “Before he left he asked the police if he could pray and knelt on his knees but nobody heard the prayer.” During the testimony, Mrs Kandara also revealed that a few weeks earlier after returning from a weekend trip to Okahandja, she found her house’s padlocks had been changed. A police officer guarding the house of a neighbour gave her a number to call, which belonged to auditors PriceWaterhouseCoopers. “I went with advocate Gerson Hinda to collect the keys and they informed us that they were the liquidators.” She also told the court that soon after getting home she discovered that the safe where they kept the guns was gone, taken by the liquidators. She said the gun was also not in the safe or in the wardrobe behind the T-shirts where her husband usually alternatively hid the firearm. Towards the end of her testimony, she said that the gun which the court exhibited as part of the evidence did not belong to her husband. “It looks similar and the serial number is the same but my husband’s gun was brownish and definitely not this one.” The testimony of Mrs Kandara was very identical to that of both her sisters and the other family members. However, one of her sisters, Gurirab, who was the last person with the late Kandara before he left the room, said Kandara briefly opened the wardrobe but she could not tell what he did because the door of the wardrobe was in her face and it happened very quickly. Gurirab, facing cross-questioning from magistrate Maria Mahalie said she did not see Kandara taking anything and did not see him hiding anything because it was too quick. Gurirab also revealed that the two police officers were left in the dinning room where they were enjoying a game of football on the television and at no point searched Kandara. All three sister testified that some 15 minutes after the police left, Hinda came back to inform them that Kandara had killed himself. After the first day of the testimony, it is not yet clear how Kandara got hold of the gun that he purportedly used to commit suicide. However, from the testimony given yesterday it appears that the police officers were very relaxed in the manner they supervised the late Kandara. More questions are expected to be answered today when more witnesses, including Inspector Oscar Sheehama, Conradie, Murorua and other police officers are expected to give their testimony. Meanwhile, Magistrate Mahalie has sent out a warrant of arrest for Sheehama who was not at court when she was looking for him. Public Prosecutor Petrus Grushaber is representing the state. The inquest will continue this morning.

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