Magistrate sentences colleague for ‘contempt of court’

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Ongwediva

An Outapi magistrate sentenced her colleague to an effective prison term for contempt of court, a move described by some staff members as a personal vendetta and abuse of power.

It is alleged that on Wednesday this week, Magistrate Unchen Konjore charged court interpreter Alina Kuutondokwa for allegedly refusing to translate proceedings in a court where Konjore presided. She was sentenced to 20 days’ imprisonment with no option of a fine. Some colleagues at court allege that the two officials have a confrontational history, which might have played a part in this week’s sentencing.

“After clashing in court once Unchen [Konjore] told Alina [Kuutondokwa] that she (Konjore) never wanted to see her again in her court,” an official said.

“But today (Wednesday) we had a shortage of interpreters, thus Unchen asked Alina to go and do interpretation in her court, but she (Kuutondokwa) refused.”

“Alina claimed that she had been banned from entering Konjore’s court and she did not want more trouble,” the official further narrated. Konjore allegedly proceeded to charge Kuutondokwa in her absence, and only called her to court towards the finalisation of the case. Sources claim that Northern Divisional Magistrate Lazarus Amutse tried to intervene by immediately submitting the matter to the High Court, but Kuutondokwa was eventually taken to Ondangwa prison. It is also alleged that Konjore was in the process of being transferred from Outapi to Oshakati, following numerous complaints from her colleagues and members of public. “She’s been transferred to work closer to the divisional magistrate because there are just too many complaints against her,” said the source.

Amutse confirmed that the incident took place, but refused to give further details, claiming that he has forwarded the matter to the High Court.

“The matter was brought to my attention but I cannot say much because I was not there. I understand that she (Kuutondokwa) was in court (when when all proceedings took place),” said Amutse.

The divisional magistrate also confirmed that Konjore’s transfer from Outapi is due on August 1. He however refuted allegations that Konjore’s alleged ill behaviour had prompted her transfer, claiming that it was “normal procedure” to transfer someone. Konjore could not be reached for comment.

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