Outcry over provisional withdrawal of cases

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Under public scrutiny… This file photo for illustration purposes shows members of the Namibian Police Force.

Windhoek

The manager of Total Service Station who was robbed of N$ 170 000 last year is disappointed in the police because he was never contacted for a statement regarding the highly-publicised robbery, or to possibly identify the robbers.

Gino Chiappini told New Era yesterday he only came to know about the developments surrounding the case through newspapers, saying the case was provisionally withdrawn by the magistrate’s court as the investigator/s failed to complete the investigations on time.

According to a Nampa article published in New Era yesterday, the case involving the three alleged robbers, namely Leonard Iita Niilenge, Jesaya Haule Kamulu and Nghilifavali Johannes was provisionally withdrawn following failure by the investigating officers to complete their investigation on time.

However, the charge could still be reinstated and each of the accused summoned to appear before court once the police complete their ongoing investigations. Similarly, a case involving rape, incest and forced abortion was struck from the roll on Wednesday after the State failed to secure a decision by the prosecutor general (PG) on the charges and the court the accused is to be tried in.

So far 211 cases were withdrawn in Windhoek magistrates’ courts between January 1 and August 31 this year alone, because dockets were either not at court, laboratory results were not available, or at the request of the public prosecutor.

Other reasons were that complainants lost interest because of the time it took to prosecute the cases, dockets were not at court on trial date, investigations were not finalised or complainants filed a withdrawal, amongst others.

A case that drew public attention that was also provisionally withdrawn is the one involving two City Police officers and two civilians arrested in connection with the alleged armed robbery of an English tourist couple last year.

Another case involving City Police officer Johannes Sheetekela Werner and his alleged lover Rosalia Eliphas, on a murder charge, was provisionally withdrawn in the Katutura Magistrate’s Court last month. The matter related to Werner and Eliphas allegedly assaulting Werner’s wife, thereby causing her death.

Dating back even further is the case against Fillipus Junias who was accused of the rape and murder of high school girl Magdalena Stoffels that was withdrawn in May 2011 due to lack of evidence against him. His case is now the subject of a civil suit against the State for wrongful prosecution. His other claims for wrongful arrest and pain and suffering were thrown out for being lodged late.

Regarding the robbery at the service station, the investigating officer asked the court on Tuesday for more time to complete the investigations, saying they still needed to obtain a statement from a witness as well as the results of DNA tests of the accused, which are to be availed in court.

“It is pathetic they (alleged robbers) are out. I was never contacted to identify the robbers or give a statement or to go to the police station,” decried Chiappini, adding that when the suspects were arrested, and one given bail and appeared in court, he read it all in the newspapers and was never informed by the police.

Chiappini was the victim of an armed robbery when Niilenge, Kamulu and Johannes allegedly gun-pointed him and demanded a bag he had containing N$170 000 in November last year.

Chiappini says that when the three men mugged him that morning they had not covered their faces, but the one who stood behind him wore glasses. Chiappini expressed his huge disappointment in the police and said he is also disappointed in the legal system for releasing one of the suspected robbers on bail while he had different pending cases against him.

Profiles of the alleged armed robbers provided by City Police spokesperson Cillie Auala last year showed that Niilenge, a resident of Havana informal settlement, has five criminal cases registered against his name.

He has a case of robbery at Outapi, two housebreaking cases in Windhoek, kidnapping and assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and pointing of a firearm.

Johannes, a resident of Hakahana, has a pending armed robbery case against him while co-suspect Kamulu, a resident of Freedom Land, also has a case of armed robbery against him.

Acting NamPol Inspector-General, Major General Des Shilunga, told New Era they had a discussion earlier about cases being withdrawn and they will look into the issue because of its gravity.

“We will find out from the investigation officers why they have not finalised the investigations,” Shilunga assured the public.
He said that although in some instances witnesses might be foreigners and live outside the country, investigators didn’t give reasons why they could not complete their investigations on time, which erodes public confidence in the police. Shilunga said if investigating officers are experiencing challenges they should inform the authority so that the problem is addressed.

“If they have problems, they should not just raise them in court. They should tell the authority for us to put mechanisms in place so that they (investigating officers) obtain statements and find witnesses and take them to court,” Shilunga stressed, adding that he would not tolerate laziness from an investigator who does not complete the docket and hides behind the excuse of transport not being available – as they never raised the challenges in the first place.

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