Windhoek – Following the withdrawal of renowned human rights lawyer Norman Tjombe from the trial in the Windhoek High Court of eight men still facing various counts of high treason, sedition, public violence and the illegal importation of weapons and ammunition, local lawyer Ilse Aggenbach was appointed by the Department of Legal Aid to represent them.
Aggenbach confirmed her appointment yesterday to Acting Judge Petrus Unengu to act on behalf of the remaining eight accused. There were ten accused originally, but one died in in custody while Boster Mubuyaeta Samuele was discharged by the Supreme Court because he was abducted from Botswana by members of Namibia’s security forces.
Tjombe successfully petitioned the chief justice for an appeal on the ruling by Judge Unengu that Namibian courts have jurisdiction over the men, in the process securing the freedom of Samuele, but failing to convince five judges of appeal the other accused deserved the same.
Deputy Chief Justice and Judge President Petrus Damaseb with Chief Justice Peter Shivute, Justice of Appeal Dave Smuts, Acting Justice of Appeal Fred Chomba and Acting Justice of Appeal Yvonne Mokgoro concurring, found that the Namibian security forces abducted Samuele from Botswana and as such Namibian courts have no jurisdiction to try him on any of the charges preferred against him.
They ordered a permanent stay of prosecution against him, which will have the effect that the accused may not be prosecuted again on any of the charges on which he was indicted in the present prosecution.
But the deputy chief justice said the same cannot be said for Progress Kenyoka Munuma Munuma, Shine Samulandela Samulandela, Manuel Manepelo Makendano, Alex Sinjabata Mushakwa, Diamond Samunzala Salufu, Hoster Simasiku Ntombo and John Mazile Tembwe.
He found that the seven accused were brought on Namibian territory by agents of Botswana where they were surrendered to Namibian government officials.
The eight men petitioned the chief justice to hear the appeal after High Court Judge Petrus Unengu first dismissed their application on jurisdiction and then refused an application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court.
They claimed they were abducted from Botswana and brought back by officials from the Namibian government with the cooperation of the Botswana government.
Judge Unengu dismissed the appeal application in March last year.
The accused, except for Frederick Isaka Ntambila who was arrested in the Zambezi Region, then Caprivi Region, questioned the High Court’s jurisdiction over them.
It is alleged they took part in a conspiracy aimed at overthrowing the Namibian government in the former Caprivi Region between September 1998 and December 2003.
They were already convicted of high treason in July of 2007 and sentenced to jail terms ranging from 30 to 32 years.
The convictions and sentences were however set aside by the Supreme Court in July 2014 and it was ordered they should be retried in the High Court.
State Advocate Neville Mawambo appears on behalf of the State.
The matter has now been postponed to April 18 this year for new trial dates to be set and the accused remain in custody.