Treason accused applied for Namibian IDs

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Roland Routh

Windhoek-Despite the eight men who face charges of high treason, sedition, public violence and the illegal importation of weapons and ammunition claiming Namibia has no jurisdiction over them, the State yesterday produced evidence they applied for Namibian citizenship.

State Advocate Neville Mawambo submitted documents to Acting Judge Petrus Unengu showing that the eight men applied for Namibian identity documents before independence and for late registration of birth certificates after independence in order to qualify for the new Namibian identity documents that did not have ethnic classification.

According to an official of the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration, Mr Muapi, he found the applications on the system of the ministry, making them authentic.
The prosecutor Mawambo produced a batch of documents showing that each of the eight men applied for a Namibian ID during the middle to late eighties.

The State-funded lawyer of the men, Ilse Aggenbach, did not object to the documents being introduced into evidence, but indicated to the court the reasons the men applied for the documents would become apparent during their evidence and cross-examination of an expert witness the State intends to call.

The eight men, who have been in custody since their arrest in 2003, are Progress Kenyoka Munuma Munuma, Shine Samulandela Samulandela, Manuel Manepelo Makendano, Alex Sinjabata Mushakwa, Diamond Samunzala Salufu, Hoster Simasiku Ntombo, Frederick Isaka Ntambila and John Mazile Tembwe.

It is alleged that 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 that they be retried in the High Court.

While they at first claimed that Namibian courts have no jurisdiction over them as they were abducted from Zambia where they were living as refugees, they now say Namibian courts have no jurisdiction over them as they did not owe any allegiance to Namibia when the offences were committed.

Their first jurisdiction challenge was dismissed by Judge Unengu in 2015 and they appealed that judgement to the Supreme Court, with only one of them successful.

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 Boster Mubuyaeta Samuele from Botswana and as such Namibian courts have no jurisdiction to try him on any of the charges preferred against him.

Their new challenge is based on arguments that the former Caprivi Region, now called Zambezi, was never part of the territory that formerly constituted the German Protectorate of South West Africa (GSWA), but that it was instead a former British Protectorate.

According to them, Britain only allowed Germany restricted rights of free trade passage in 1890 from the very north of the Damaraland (GSWA) territory, along a strip of territory along the Portuguese border, giving Germany free trade passage to the Zambezi River to reach her colony in East Africa, the former Tanganyika, but never ceded control of the territory then known as the Exclusive Caprivi Zone.

The case continues today and the eight men remain in custody.

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