The proceedings which are to pave the way for the sentencing phase of the Caprivi treason trial started yesterday after eleven long years, with the State calling the commander of the unit that investigated the August 2, 1999 attacks on Katima Mulilo to testify in aggravation.
Testifying before Judge Elton Hoff Commissioner Lisias Shimutwikeni called for stiff sentences to be imposed on the 30 men that were convicted of one count of high treason, nine counts of murder and 240 counts of attempted murder at the end of one the longest judgments to have been pronounced in Namibia.
Shimutwikeni also produced a cassette tape recording of an interview with the self-confessed mastermind of the secession attempt of the Zambezi Region – then Caprivi – Mishake Muyongo with South Africa’s SABC News.
In the interview he boasted that he only needed to pick up the phone to continue with the secession activities, saying he was the leader of the banned United Democratic Party (UDP. He also claimed he had the support of 80 to 90 percent of all Caprivians and insisted Caprivi was never a part of Namibia.
In fact in the recording he said he and founding president Sam Nuyoma signed an agreement before Independence that the Caprivi Strip would become an independent state once Namibia achieved independence from apartheid South Africa.
Although all the defense counsels were in agreement that the recording had little or nothing to do with their clients, they bombarded Shimutwikeni with questions about the effectiveness of a lengthy custodial sentence in deterrence.
All of them said in recent times Namibia’s Superior Courts have dished out severe sentences, but the spate of crime does not seem to diminish.
Lawyer Jonathan Samukange went to the extent of saying the responsibility for events of that fateful morning should be laid squarely at the door of the State, as it knew in advance of the plans to secede the Caprivi Region, but failed to act.
He said that to now punish the convicted men for the failure of the State is not fair. Shimutwikeni, however, stuck to his guns that the secessionist convicts deserve a severe punishment to act as an example to others who might harbour similar intentions.
The 30 men convicted of the failed attempt to forcefully secede the Zambezi Region from Namibia are Bollen Mwilima Mwilima, Alfred Lupalezi Siyata, Mathews Muyandulwa Sasele and Charles Nyambe Mainga, Benhard Maungolo Jojo, Victor Masiye Matengu, Alfred Tawana Matengu, Mathews Munali Pangula, Richard Simataa Mundia and Geoffrey Kapuzo Mwilima, former DTA MP.
Other convicted persons include Sikunda John Samboma, who was allegedly the Commander of the Caprivi Liberation Army (CLA), the armed wing of the banned UDP, led by exiled Mishake Muyongo, as well as Thadius Siyoka Ndala, purportedly Samboma’s second-in-command.
Adour Mutalife Chika, Kingsley Mwiya Musheba, Rodwell Sihela Mwanabwe, Kester Silemu Kambungu, Fabian Thomas Simiyasa and Albert Sakena Mangilazi were also among the convicted, together with Osbert Mwenyi Likanyi, Richard Libano Misuha, Moses Chicho Kayoka and Bennet Kacenze Mutuso, who described himself as a commander in the CLA who went by the nickname ‘Spiderman’.
Other high treason convicts include Charles Mafenyeho Mushakwa, Raphael Lyazwila Lifumbela, Aggrey Kayaba Makendano, Martin Siano Tabaundule, Chris Puisano Ntaba, Postrick Mowa Mwinga, Ndala Saviour Tatalife and John Panse Lubilo.
Three of the accused, who were acquitted, were however convicted on lesser charges of contravening the Immigration Act by either illegally exiting or entering Namibia through ungazetted border posts.
They are George Kasanga, Oscar Kashalula Muyuka Puteho, as well as George Masialeti Liseho and were all released on a warning.