Two separate magistrates, in two different courts, have again scolded the police and the prosecutor general’s office for failing to carry out proper investigations, as well as for failing to do thorough preparations for the courts to carry out their work.
The two magistrates threw out two cases – one of murder and attempted robbery, and the other of murder. One case had been postponed each time it came to court during the last three years, while the other dates back to 2014.
The case of murder and attempted robbery involves five men accused of murdering a Chinese national Zhi Zong during a robbery. Zhi was shot in the chest during a botched robbery attempt three years ago at a construction site in Nickel Street, Windhoek. The other case involves the death of Misano Garoeb on August 3, 2014. The victim was killed at farm Satan Sloght in Windhoek District.
“I am shocked by the conduct of the state in dealing with this matter, as the matter has been on the roll for over three years now,” said a visibly peeved Windhoek magistrate Justine Asino when she struck the case of Zhi’s murder and attempted robbery from the roll.
In the case of Garoeb’s murder, magistrate Celma Ndapewa Amadhila was not too pleased that an investigative officer who first arrived at the scene in 2014 had not been able to submit a crucial affidavit of witness statements, and other key accounts, including of what was found at the crime scene.
Amadhila blatantly refused the prosecution’s umpteenth request for postponement for the investigative officer to rectify the shortcomings, saying the investigative officer had until April 2016 to do just that.
“The court is not placed in a better position to grant a further remand for further investigations into this matter – as a result further remand is hereby refused,” said Amadhila.
Documents attained by New Era from the office of the prosecutor general show the investigative officer on duty who first arrived at Garoeb’s murder scene failed to do his job properly.
The documents state that the investigative officer on duty failed to submit an affidavit that clearly indicates what he “found upon his arrival at the crime scene, statements from several witnesses at the scene, in what condition was the body of the deceased, how the body of the deceased reached the mortuary and furthermore did he notice any injuries on the deceased’s body”.
It was because of these shortcomings that the state prosecution had always been asking for a postponement for the investigative officer to furnish the outstanding documents.
In the most recent court appearance public prosecutor Erastus Hatutale again requested a postponement, telling the court that “investigations are not finalised as of yet – two aspects from the instructions of the prosecutor general need to be finalised still.” Magistrate Amadhila refused and ordered that bail paid by Immanuel Uirab, who is accused of killing Garoeb, be refunded and the case be struck from the court roll.
Uirab had already informed the court that he would plead not guilty to the charge and did not wish to provide a plea explanation. Uirab’s state funded lawyer had informed the court that Uirab puts the onus on the state to prove each and every charge against him.
In the case of Zhi’s murder, a clearly irritated magistrate Asino noted the murder and attempted robbery case had been postponed several times because of investigations not being finalised.
The five suspects accused of murder and attempted robbery are Sheelekeni Erasmus Ndiikongela, 26, Fillemon Nghilenga, 28, Timotheus Timotheus Kadhila, 38, Mateus Iitembu, and Dinineni Taukuheke Haihambo, 42, who allegedly fatally assaulted and shot Zhi. It is alleged that Zhi was shot after putting up resistance when the five suspects arrived at a construction site in Nickel Street, Prosperita industrial area, Windhoek, where he and another countryman were residing. The five men have been coming to court only to have their case postponed each time, with the state prosecution saying the police need more time to finalise the investigation.
“Why is it taking so long to finalise investigations – the court and the defence have agreed that it is a serious matter?” defence lawyer Kadhila Amoomo asked the court in an objection for a further postponement.
Asino returned bail money amounting to N$68 000 to the accused with reasons that more investigations needed to be done and the state was not taking the case at hand as a serious matter.
Defence lawyer Max Lameck, who was representing two of the accused, told the court that the delay in police investigations is not the fault of the accused and they cannot be held hostage due to the police not fulfilling their duties. Adding that this was an act of justice being delayed and denied to the accused.
Magistrate Asino struck the case from the roll and reassured the accused that they will be re-summoned to court once everything has been placed in order and investigations into their case have been finalised for the murder and attempted robbery trial.
Magistrate Amadhila also returned Uirab’s bail money and warned him that he may be subpoenaed to re-appear in court should the state get its house in order.