By Chrispin Inambao
Vincent Liswaniso Siliye (38), one of the two detainees freed a fortnight ago in the Caprivi high treason case, says he intends to sue the State.
Late last month, the outspoken former prison warder at Divundu Rehabilitation Centre and Vincent Khasu Sinasi (47) were set free by the High Court.
Sinasi, Siliye’s co-accused, could not make it to yesterday’s briefing that took place at Liberty House.
At the time, the prosecution conceded that there were insufficient grounds to detain the duo on the counts of high treason, sedition, public violence, unlawful possession or of supply of projectiles or rockets with the intention to forcefully secede Caprivi from Namibia.
At yesterday’s briefing, organized by the National Society for Human Rights (NSHR), the former prison officer who was unapologetic on his stance with regard to his wish to secede Caprivi Region, says he intends to sue the government for wrongful arrest and unjust detention, and for tarnishing his reputation.
The other grounds on which Siliye intends demanding compensation from government are that he maintains when he and Sinasi were subjected to interrogations, they were never warned about their rights under Article 7 to remain silent and not to say anything that could be used against them and that also guarantees the presence of a state-appointed lawyer or one of their choice.
“I feel the government of Namibia should compensate us for illegal detention, and my name is damaged. I was denied the right to legal representation,” said Siliye.
He feels his arrest culminating in the protracted trial before the High Court, like those of the other 121 Caprivi accused, was unlawful and unprocedural.
In response to a query on whether he was personally subjected to torture shortly after he was arrested in Botswana and subsequently deported to Namibia, Siliye told journalists, “Personally, I was not physically tortured by my interrogators,” but he maintained he was “abducted” in Botswana and that he and others were allegedly brought back to Namibia against their will.
Siliye strongly feels Caprivi is not a part of Namibia, and he suggested the present case could only be resolved politically and peacefully if the government sits with exiled secessionist leader, Mishake Muyongo.
NSHR chief, Phil ya Nangoloh, though obviously sympathetic to the separatist cause, stated at the briefing, “violence is definitely totally unacceptable.”
“I was born a Caprivian from my mother’s womb. Caprivi is not part of Namibia historically and geographically,” said Siliye who regards himself as a “political prisoner” arrested for his political convictions.
He feels the other detainees were also supposed to have been set free by the High Court on the day he was freed.
“We were all supposed to be acquitted on the day I was discharged,” he said referring to other detainees.
Ya Nangoloh echoed Siliye’s sentiments, saying, “no one shall be deprived of personal liberty except according to procedures established by law, and no one shall be compelled to give testimony against themselves.”
He further welcomed the duo’s release, stating he was not surprised by the ruling because of what he terms “the generally unlawful and unprocedural manner” in which Siliye and Sinasi were brought before the court.
Prior to his release in late May, Siliye and 11 others in the second high treason trial had written a letter to the government demanding compensation and the full restoration of their rights with regard to what they regarded as wrongful arrest, unlawful detention and what they said was wrongful prosecution.
Siliye and Sinasi were arrested and detained in neighbouring Botswana on September 6, 2001 and November 19, 1999, respectively. Prior to their arrests, they were in a group of almost 3 000 people who fled from Caprivi claiming they were being politically persecuted ,an allegation that is denied by government.