The eight men who are still behind bars to face various charges in connection with the protracted Caprivi high treason trial will finally take the stand to table their special plea in a hearing scheduled for May.
Progress Kenyoka Munuma, Shine Samulandela Samulandela, Manuel Manepelo Makendano, Alex Sinjabata Mushakwa, Diamond Samunzala Salufu, Hoster Simasiku Ntombo, Fredderick Ntamilwa and John Mazila Tembwe are all charged with high treason, sedition, public violence and the illegal importation and possession of weapons and ammunition.
According to the prosecution, the men are alleged to have been part of the armed secessionist organisation in the former Caprivi region that conspired to overthrow the Namibian government in that region between the period of September 1998 and December 2003.
The group allegedly imported into Namibia armaments comprised of cannon, machine guns, magazine and other military weapons for their planned forceful succession of the Caprivi Strip at the time.
The eight men were arrested between July 2002 and December 2003 and were found guilty of high treason in July 2007. They were subsequently sentenced to 32 years in prison, respectively. However, the Supreme Court later set aside their conviction and sentences in 2013 for a retrial in the High Court.
They approached the court in 2014 for a special plea, which the court dismissed at the time, after the court found there was no evidence that supported their version of them having been abducted, as the group claimed they had been abducted in Botswana by Namibian officials with the full knowledge and cooperation of the Botswanan government.
Initially 121 men were arrested and faced a total of 278 charges, including high treason, of which many have already been acquitted and released. Some of those freed after being in prison for an extended period of time are now suing the State for over N$300 million for ‘malicious prosecution’.
The remaining eight will remain in custody at least until their return to court for their special plea on May 15.