Windhoek-Windhoek High Court Judge Dinah Usiku, with Acting High Court Judge Johanna Salionga concurring, on Tuesday morning granted rape convict Vincent Likoro leave to appeal his conviction in the Supreme Court.
Likoro, the former special advisor of the then Minister of Lands and Resettlement, Alpheus Naruseb, was convicted and sentenced on a charge of rape that happened in July of 2013 during an official trip to the Zambezi Region.
His appeal against conviction in the Windhoek High Court was already dismissed by Judges Christi Liebenberg and Dinah Usiku on December 8 last year who cancelled his bail and ordered that he be brought before the Regional Court in Katima Mulilo where he was convicted and sentenced to 10 years imprisonment in 2016 for committal.
He claimed the judges were wrong in concluding the cumulative effect of the failures or omissions by his legal representative during the trial in the magistrate court indeed did not constitute an irregularity of such magnitude that it impermissibly and unlawfully infringed upon his right to a fair trial.
In his notice of appeal, Likoro says Judge Liebenberg was wrong when he found that the appeal against conviction is without prospects of success and refused condonation for the late filing of the appeal.
Likoro claims his lawyer during the trial, Kennedy Haraseb, failed to put his defense to the State witnesses properly, which infringed on his right to a fair trial.
According to Judge Usiku, the gist of the matter is whether Likoro had an effective legal representation during the course of his trial in the Katima Mulilo Regional Court and whether he received a fair trial in terms of the Constitution.
She further said it is to be established whether the magistrate had properly carried out his obligations in terms of sections 168 and 186 of the Criminal Procedure Act, which makes provision for a court to adjourn a matter to any date and for a court to subpoena any witnesses it deems necessary.
“It is a principle of our law that courts must ensure justice not only to be done but be seen to be done whereby aggrieved persons receive fair trials,” Judge Usiku stressed.
She further said it common cause that an applicant in this type of application must first satisfy the court there are reasonable prospects of success on appeal and that another court may come to a different conclusion.
“Having considered the grounds upon which the application is based, the absence of any precedent in our jurisdiction on the subject matter and the authorities referred to by the applicant which are of a persuasive nature, this court is persuaded that there is a reasonable possibility that the Supreme Court may or would arrive at a different view,” Judge Usiku said before she granted Likoro leave to apply to the Supreme Court.
He will, in the meantime, remain in custody unless he succeeds in obtaining bail. Likoro was represented by Advocate Louis Botes on instructions from Jan Wessels and the State by Advocate Dominic Lisulo.