Lawyer withdraws from Matsi fraud case

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Maria Amakali

Windhoek-The lawyer who was representing fashion designer Hambeleleni ‘Hem’ Maria Matsi withdrew from the case, which has now set the matter on the back-burner. Matsi is accused of hiring men to burn her car for her to claim an insurance payout.

Chris Brandt, who was Matsi’s legal counsel during the trial, wrote a letter to the prosecutor informing her that upon Masti’s request he had decided to step down. The matter was on the court roll for submission before the magistrate could deliver judgement.

“Due to the comment made by Mrs Nandago and Ms Hinda, and the actions by Mrs Nandago, Ms Hambeleleni Maria Matsi has asked me to step down,” said Brandt in his hand-delivered letter.

The letter, which was handed in as an exhibit, was read into the record with magistrate Elina Nandago refusing to continue with the matter, saying the allegations are of a serious nature.

“I do not have any personal interest in the case. I will not proceed with any matter if there are such serious allegations against me. These allegations need to be stated clearly so they can be read into the record,” said Nandago.

Matsi’s new defence counsel Kadhila Amoomo wanted the matter to proceed as scheduled, however the court declined.
“These allegations are serious. If we are deemed to be partial … we can step down and have the matter continue before a different magistrate,” stated Nandago.

The matter was postponed for the transcription of the record to be availed so that the defence team can go through it and point out what exactly did prosecutor Hinda and magistrate Nandago do wrong.

“Right now, we do not know what comments we made and actions we took that were not right. Chris Brandt needs to come and inform the court on record what those actions and comments were, which made him to step down,” said Nandago.

Matsi, who appeared on bail before magistrate Elina, faces charges of fraud in connection with her car being set alight in July 2011 by two men.

Although having denied guilt, one of the hired men testified in court that Matsi orchestrated the whole plan of having her Mercedes Benz A-class vehicle stolen and set alight so that she could claim insurance money.
The burnt car was later found at Daan Viljoen resort. The two men were allegedly promised N$60,000.

According to court documents the total amount paid out by the insurance company was only N$75,536.84 of which N$63, 536.84 was paid to the bank to pay off the car loan. Only N$12,000 was paid to Matsi.
Matsi is expected to return to court on January 25, 2018.

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