Windhoek-Dates for the new trial of former member of the Public Service Commission (PSC), Teckla Lameck, and her co-accused Jerobeam Kongo Mokaxwa and Chinese citizen Yang Fan will be set by the new judge in their court appearance next week.
Judge Christi Liebenberg, who has been assigned the task to start the trial anew, after Judge Maphios Cheda was recused from the trial by three judges of the Appeal Court, indicated to lawyer Khadila Amoomo, who stood in for Sisa Namandje, that the matter was postponed to next week Thursday for setting down of trial dates.
The recusal of Judge Cheda came as a result of an application by Lameck for the judge to recuse himself for alleged bias in their fraud trial in the Windhoek High Court.
The judge refused their application, but granted Lameck leave to appeal the ruling in the Supreme Court.
Judge of Appeal Elton Hoff, with Deputy Chief Justice Petrus Damaseb and Judge of Appeal Dave Smuts concurring, subsequently found that Judge Cheda should have recused himself.
“I am of the view in the circumstances of this case that the apprehension of bias by the appellants was that of reasonable individuals and that such apprehension was based on reasonable grounds. The judge in the court a quo (trial court) in my view should have recused himself,” Justice Hoff said in the appeal judgment.
The matter was ordered back to the High Court to start fresh before a new judge. This effectively meant that the trial, which started in April 2013, four years after the arrest of the three accused in 2009, was put back on the pre-trial roster for a judge to be allocated and trial dates to be set.
The 21 witnesses that already testified will now be called back to court again to give their testimonies again and the defence will probably again dispute summonses issued by the ACC which caused the recusal application against Judge Cheda.
In his ruling on the admissibility of the summonses, Judge Cheda referred to warrants issued by a magistrate instead of the summonses.
Lameck claimed the judge in essence pre-associated himself with the State when he found that “warrants” issued by a magistrate are admissible, while the defence objected to summonses issued by the ACC director. The Supreme Court agreed with Lameck that a reasonable apprehension of bias does exist. Lameck, Mokaxwa and Yang are accused of committing fraud of millions of Namibia Dollars.
The State alleges that the trio defrauded the government and Swapo company Namib Contract Haulage.
While Lameck and Mokaxwa alone are accused of defrauding the Swapo owned company where they worked of at least US$144,000 for the purchase of four tipper trucks, they together with Yang are accused of a range of charges under the Anti-Corruption Act.
It is alleged that Lameck, Yang and Mokaxwa duped government through the Ministry of Finance to pay an inflated price of US$55,348 800 for scanners to be used at airports and border posts.
In fact, the State alleges, the price was inflated by an amount of US$12.8 million meant as ‘commission’ for Teko Trading that facilitated the transaction.
The other charges – Lameck faces 18, Mokaxwa 12 and Yang six – relate to transgressions of the Immigration Control Act, the Prevention of Organised Crime Act and further contraventions of the Anti-Corruption Act.