By Wezi Tjaronda
An Oshakati resident, Immanuel A Engombe has appealed to President Hifikepunye Pohamba to intervene in a case where he claims he was denied justice more than 10 years ago.
He wrote to the President on February 5, as a last resort, after attempts to get assistance from the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and the Ombudsman’s office to have the man he suspected of stealing his vehicle prosecuted proved futile.
He is asking the President’s office to institute an investigation into why the Oshakati Magistrate’s Court “shielded the thief and the ACC suppressed the investigation into this matter the whole year”.
Engombe says his Toyota 4×4 double cab was stolen from his residence at Ongwediva on December 27, 1993 and he reported the matter at Oshakati Police.
He said he alerted all service stations not to refuel the vehicle because he knew the vehicle had very little fuel left. The following day, with the help of some policemen, Engombe said, they followed the tracks of the vehicle up to a point where the vehicle had apparently met another vehicle belonging to Sebastian Ipinge, where it is alleged that Engombe’s vehicle was refuelled.
He said the team followed Ipinge’s car tracks up to his residence at Amutanga where they allegedly found Engombe’s canopy. Engombe claims that when the police quizzed Ipinge over the canopy found at his house he allegedly answered arrogantly that he ‘picked it up from the road’.
Engombe opened a case of theft (CR 156/12/1993) and asked the police to charge the man who was found with the canopy.
But, Engombe said the police refused to prosecute until July 1997 when the Office of the Ombudsman intervened.
The suspect was then charged but seemingly acquitted after apparently ‘he satisfied the court’. Engombe said he was shocked because he was not called in to testify in the matter.
“In this way, the Oshakati Magistrate’s Court decided openly to side with the culprit and ignore me and my witnesses when I had a good chance to recover my vehicle, sat on my vehicle and blocked all avenues to regain it,” he said.
He claimed in the letter that he believed ‘corruption and denial of justice were involved in the case when the Oshakati Magistrate’s Court decided to shield and ignore me and my witnesses when I stood an excellent chance to recover my vehicle’.
Engombe said the theft of his vehicle forced him to give up his mahangu field that was his main source of income, while his business collapsed.
“The vehicle also used to help me transport mahangu from Namakunde in Angola and cattle from Epalela to sell … in order to feed my big family – nucleus and extended.
“This left immeasurable distress and poverty to my family to say the least,” he added.
Both, director of the ACC, Paulus Noa, and Ombudsman, John Walters, last week said their offices had no power to interfere in decisions of the court as the matter was adjudicated by a court of law.
Noa told New Era on Wednesday that the ACC found that this was more of an administrative matter and referred it to the Ombudsman’s office for it to find out whether the decision of the court was in accordance with justice.
The letter to the Ombudsman to find out if there were any irregularities was sent on February 20, 2006. The ACC wrote a letter to Engombe on February 22 last year informing him about their decision on his complaint.
“We want to help but the assistance is in respect of prosecuting. But we can only do it if we have evidence for prosecution,” said Noah.
He added that justice must be done when there is evidence.
Walters said his office closed Engombe’s file on March 4, 1998 when the said suspect was brought before the court.
“We did our job and we advised the client that we can’t interfere in courts’ decisions,” said Walters, adding that if he was not satisfied, he should have complained to the Ministry of Justice or the Prosecutor General.
“We did what we could and it is not expected of this office to go and interrogate the prosecutor on why the man was acquitted,” said Walters.