Arms cache suspect denied bail

by Tunomukwathi Asino

Arms cache suspect denied bail

Windhoek

The farmer who was found in possession of unlicensed weapons in February was denied bail in the Otjiwarongo Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday.

Johannes Mostert, 53, faces a charge of possession of assault weapons without a licence.



In the ruling delivered late on Tuesday, Magistrate Helvi Shilemba said Mostert’s bail application was “unsuccessful because police investigations are ongoing”.

The accused is expected to make another court appearance on April 20, the initial date given to him at his first court appearance, for commencement of trial.

Mostert’s bail hearing was held in the Otjiwarongo Magistrate’s Court from March 29 to March 30 and continued last Monday until Thursday.

Mostert faces charges of possessing illegal firearms; possessing ammunition without a licence; possessing hand grenades without a permit; and contravening the Explosives Act of 1956.

The weapons were discovered by the police on Mostert’s farm, Swartmodder, situated about 135 km south of Otjiwarongo in the Otjozondjupa Region.

He also faces a charge of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm (GBH), which was laid by his 53-year-old ex-wife.

A charge relating to preventing and combating terrorism was removed from the charge sheet on March 29, as it is apparently difficult to prove in court.

Some of the recovered military equipment found at his farm include 15 guns (AK-47s, R1s, R5s), hand grenades and hunting rifles, and military gear thought to have belonged to the South West Africa Territorial Force (SWATF), South West Africa Police (SWAPOL) and the People’s Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN), among others.

Mostert was arrested on February 4 after he handed himself over at the Otjiwarongo Police Station.

He is represented in court by Windhoek-based lawyer, Willem Hendrik Visser, who told the court that of the 15 guns found in Mostert’s possession, seven were inherited with Farm Swartmodder from his father, who died in 2002.

The lawyer said those seven guns had been licensed in Mostert’s father’s name and the accused was in the process of transferring ownership into his name, according to court records.

Visser said the guns were once handed to the police at the Otjiwarongo Police Station for safekeeping after Mostert’s father had died. He said the police then released the weapons into Mostert’s custody when they started with renovations to the police storeroom at Otjiwarongo – and never demanded them back.

The lawyer indicated that his client intends to plead guilty to the illegal possession of four hunting rifles and ammunition, which he said belong to a friend of his from Angola, who left them at his farm after game hunting.

Mostert said he had no dangerous hand grenades, or explosives, and only knew of smoke grenades in his possession.

He, however, said he would plead guilty to possession of those materials during trial.

On the charge of assault, Mostert and his two witnesses both said the complainant was the one who abused him by constantly attacking him with her hands and various objects.

One of those witnesses is the 26-year-old biological son of the complainant, who is Mostert’s stepson.

Visser told the court that even if his client were to be found guilty, he would have an option to pay a fine.

“Therefore, my client has no reason to escape to any foreign country over this case.”

He then asked the court to grant Mostert bail and attach strict conditions, which he was sure his client would abide by. Visser said his client could afford to post bail of less than N$100 000.

Public Prosecutor Lewis Chigunwe, who represented the State in the matter, opposed bail. He indicated that Mostert has ties in Angola, South Africa and Botswana, to where he transports livestock, and might escape the country in order not to stand trial.

Chigunwe also feared Mostert might interfere with police investigations, as well as carry out the alleged threats he made of killing the complainant.

New Era understands that Mostert was born in Windhoek and worked as an officer in the SWATF from 1983 until 1991, when he resigned.

Following Mostert’s arrest, a second farmer was taken into custody for illegal possession of weapons in February.

Willem Maritz, 60, from Hochfeld appeared in the Okahandja Magistrate’s Court in February to face charges of threatening, pointing a firearm at his farm worker, as well as possession of firearms and ammunition without any valid licence.

Hochfeld is a settlement 135km northeast of Okahandja.

Detective Chief Inspector Naukalemo Andreas, the regional crime investigating coordinator for the Otjozondjupa Region, informed New Era in February that Maritz had allegedly threatened and pointed a firearm at his worker, who reported the matter to the Hochfeld police.

Upon investigating the police found and confiscated a variety of firearms, including shotguns, assault rifles and ammunition, Andreas said.

Maritz was released on bail of N$4 000 and the matter was remanded to March 14 for further police investigations.

 

 

 

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