A farmer accused of shooting and killing a suspected poacher on his father’s farm, Otukaruno in the Okahandja District, will hear on June 27 if he is to spend his trial behind bars.
Judge Dinah Usiku indicated she will then give her ruling on the appeal Kai Rust lodged against the refusal of bail in the Okahandja Magistrate’s Court by Magistrate Masule Kwizi.
Rust, 44, is charged with murder, three counts of attempted murder, possession of a firearm without a licence and possession of ammunition without a licence.
He was arrested on January 26 after he allegedly shot at poachers he spotted busy skinning a kudu on the farm situated about 25 kilometres from Okahandja on the Hochfeld Road.
In the process, one of the alleged poachers was killed when he was hit in the back, as well as one of the dogs. The deceased was identified as Andreas Ukandanga.
A half-skinned kudu carcass, four snares, a panga, a knife and one bag of maize meal were found at the scene, it was reported at the time.
During his ruling on the original bail application, Kwezi said Rust’s credibility as a witness was tainted, since he did not take the court into his confidence.
He further said one of the State’s main objections was that Rust had relatives outside Namibia and could easily abscond as he had the means. At the time Kwizi said, “The court finds no assurance that the accused will stand trial if granted bail without the risk of absconding.”
Defense counsel Jan Wessels, who represented Rust during the bail application and the appeal, questioned these findings by the magistrate. He said the accused is a Namibian citizen with deep roots in Namibia.
On the finding by Kwizi that the State produced serious incriminating evidence, which was not refuted by the accused when he merely issued a blank statement of denial without anything to back it up, Wessels said it was the prerogative of an accused to remain silent and not disclose his defence.
He said it was not for the magistrate to find his client guilty without a trial. Rust has already indicated he would plead not guilty to the charges and denies that he handled a firearm on the day in question.
State Advocate Jack Eixab reminded Judge Usiku that a higher court may not interfere with a decision of a lower court unless that decision is inherently flawed. In this particular case, Eixab argued, the magistrate set out his reasons for the refusal of bail in a concise and detailed manner and the High Court cannot fault him for that.
He asked the High Court to uphold the decision of the magistrate as sound and reasonable.