“I myself am entitled to a bail hearing and all bail hearings should be dealt with as a matter of urgency. The State should note that I am innocent until proven guilty,” fraud suspect Ivan Tjizu told the court on Thursday.
The 29-year-old prosecutor who plied his trade at Windhoek Magistrate’s Court appeared in Katutura Magistrate Court on Thursday, where he sought to file a bail application following his arrest on four counts of fraud.
Tjizu wanted his bail hearing to held on December 14, or as soon as possible, despite Public Prosecutor Lourinda Seredine Hinda strongly opposing it.
Tjizu was arrested on Wednesday by the Anti-corruption Commission (ACC) and made his first appearance in court in connection with the charges of fraud on Friday.
It is alleged he defrauded the State of N$280 000 in witness fees. He reportedly fraudulently claimed witness fees for people who travelled from outside Windhoek who were arranged to pose as State witnesses.
Witness fees were then falsely claimed and paid out at the Windhoek Magistrate’s Court, it is alleged.
Prosecutor Hinda explained to the court that the accused had no right to dictate a date suitable to him.
“It is not for the accused to decide when a matter should be set down for formal bail application,” Hinda explained, urging that the bail application be heard early next year.
The State opposed Tjizu’s proposed date on the grounds that the police investigations are still at an early stage and there is a fear the accused might interfere with witnesses, as some are his colleagues.
Given that other suspects are yet to be apprehended and that further charges may need to be added to the charge sheet, compounded by issue of the availability of prosecutors, there was no way that investigations would be finalised within two weeks, the prosecutor argued.
Defence lawyer Theo Karolus, who stood in for attorney Kadhila Amoomo, defended his client’s request by highlighting that the date of the bail hearing should not be determined by the availability of prosecutors, but by the urgency of the matter at hand. He proposed the court make it the final remand for bail application, as investigations started before the accused was arrested.
After some back and forth between the defence lawyer and public prosecutor, Magistrate Hambeleleni Heita dismissed the State’s application to postpone the bail application to next year.
Magistrate Heita said the reasons given by the State were insufficient, as a bail application is an urgent matter and so instructed that the Office of the Prosecutor General provide a prosecutor for the hearing next week.
The matter is set down for formal bail application on December 14 and 15, said Heita before proceeding with the next case.
Incidentally, on the same day Tjizu was arrested Public Prosecutor Anton Wilson also appeared in the Windhoek Magistrate’s Court on 10 charges of fraud and corruption.