By Staff Reporter
The trial in the case of the State against Reinhardt Zaire started yesterday morning in the Windhoek Regional Court before magistrate Dina Usiku, with Zaire pleading not guilty to all four charges.
Zaire is accused of contravening section 21 of the Medical and Dental Professions Act of 1993 by practising as a medical practitioner without having registered with the Medical Board of Namibia.
Leading the State’s case prosecutor O. J. Lino submitted to the court that between 1997 and 1999 the accused, Zaire “wrongfully and unlawfully for gain practised as a medical practitioner”.
Zaire’s lawyer, Jan Wessels, however admitted to Zaire not being registered with the Medical Board of Namibia as a medical practitioner but denied the charges of him having ever practiced as a medical practitioner as charged.
He said Zaire was a qualified medical practitioner and proof of this could be provided if required. However, he denied the allegations of Zaire ever practising as a medical practitioner, saying the State needed to prove this.
Upon this the State called its witnesses. The first witness to testify was the Commanding Officer of the Namibian Police’s Drug Law Enforcement Unit, Bart de Klerk. De Klerk testified to the court that he was tasked with the investigation of the specific case in 2000 and among the evidence was a letter from the Medical Board to the effect that Zaire was not registered with it.
He said he also spoke to a nurse and an assistant nurse during his investigation, as well as an unidentified resident who had complained. Upon cross-examination by the defence on whether he ever spoke to the accused, De Klerk could not answer in the affirmative. He identified the presumed places of Zaire’s practice as at Planck Street and UN Plaza.
The second State witness was Frans Nepembe who claimed to have been treated by Zaire for gout in 1998 and several times thereafter. This, he testified, was at a clinic somewhere next to the Soweto informal market.
He said he was received by a staff member of the said clinic at the reception who wrote down his name, whereafter he proceeded to Zaire who enquired what he was suffering from. He answered that he was suffering from gout, whereupon Zaire checked his foot and even his body temperature with a thermometer.
Thereafter Zaire apparently escorted him to a lady whom he spoke to. He left him with this lady who gave him an injection and some medicine.
Nepembe did not know the name of the lady. However he affirmed that the person who examined him was Zaire by pointing out to Zaire in the accused box in the court.
Upon questioning as to who asked the lady to give him an injection and tablets, Nepembe answered that he thought it was Zaire.
Asked by prosecution how he knew where to find the accused and if the specific clinic was the one where he could find Dr Zaire, the witness was at a loss for an answer, only saying that when one is in pain one only craves for treatment so that the pain can go away and one does not so much bother about things around him.
He said inside this building there were boxes of medicine, a table and some shelves where the boxes of medicine were kept. He said when he entered the clinic there were other people although he could not identify any one of them.
He said he had been to the clinic about six times thereafter and went through the same procedure during those times as the first one.
Zaire’s lawyer put it to the witness that this happened about 10 years ago and how could he rely on his memory, whereupon the witness answered that he did not take notes because he never envisaged this would become a court case.
The defence lawyer also put it to Nepembe that the Ministry of Health had issued a certificate to a private nurse to practise at this clinic, upon which he did not know nor would he deny that.
The lawyer also put to Nepembe that he did his own diagnosis because it was not the accused who told him that he had gout. He also asked the witness whether he would deny that the person who gave him the pills and injection was entitled to do that.
The defence lawyer also asked the witness whether he paid for the treatment and he affirmed he did pay, but at the point where he received the medicine.
However, the prosecution could only provide uncertified copies of the payment receipts, which was inadmissible as evidence in court.
The trial continues today and among those to testify as State witnesses are Deputy Minister of Safety and Security Gabes Shihepo and Namibian High Commissioner to Botswana, Hadino Hishongwa.