WINDHOEK – Namibia’s Commissioner for Refugees Likius Valombola made his first appearance in a fully packed Windhoek Magistrate’s Court yesterday in connection with the shooting of a former student leader who is currently fighting for his life in Katutura State Hospital.
The shooting of 27-year-old Helao Ndjamba – a former national executive member of the Namibia National Students Organisation (Nanso) – happened on May 19 in Katutura’s Ombili area.
Valombola, 53, was re-arrested in Opuwo on May 23 after having been arrested and released a few hours under highly suspicious circumstances that precipitated an outcry from members of the public who accused police of favouritism. Despite the fact that Ndjamba is on life support in the Katutura hospital’s intensive care unit (ICU), Valombola was released on a warning without having made his mandatory court appearance before a magistrate. This did not sit well with the victim’s family, who claimed that the commissioner was favoured by law enforcement agents.
He was later re-arrested and dragged to court for yesterday’s routine appearance.
The prosecution alleges that on May 19, Valombola assaulted Ndjamba by shooting him in the head with intent to kill him. Valombola now faces a charge of attempted murder for the incident.
The prosecution alleges Valombola on the day in question was the aggressor in the situation that even his own son had to pull him back to the car. The prosecution alleges that at the time when Valombola exited his car to confront Ndjamba, he had a gun in his hands. Furthermore, there was no eminent threat to his life at the time when he fired the so-called warning shots. According to state prosecutor Arie Husselman, Valombola would not have been arrested if one of the victim had not taken a picture of his car after the refugee commissioner bolted from the scene.
Valombola has denied any wrong doing when he took a no guilty plea after the charges were put to him. In his defense, he claims that even though his life was in danger he had no intention to harm anyone when he fired the shots.
However, the state refuted this. “If you did not direct your shots at anybody, that bullet would not have ended up in someone’s head,” noted state prosecutor Husselman.
According to Valombola’s version of events, he was in the car with his wife and son who was the driver of the vehicle. They were driving on King Kauluma Street in the Oshitenda area of Ombili when they came across a Toyota Corolla stationary on the road with open doors and people standing by the side of the road.
He claims his son tried to flash his lights in an attempt to get the owners of the car to close their windows and give them right of passage. His son stopped the car and got out to go talk to the owners of the stationary car to make way. After a heated exchange of words with the owners of the Toyota, they allegedly went back to their car. He further stated that the three men followed him and his family to their car, which the men started banging on in agression.
“I opened the passenger’s door and fired one warning shot. Seeing that they did not disperse, I fired another warning shot and my son drove off,” explained Valombola.
Valombola says at the time of firing the shots his life was in danger even though he does not recall the three men having weapons.
He says he had no idea when the police called him an hour later that he had shot someone. Thereafter, the police arrested him at his home at 03h00 in the morning and he was released the same day in the afternoon. “The boy remains in my prayers. I had no intention to kill or harm anyone when I fired the warning shots,” said Valombola during his testimony.
Taking the witness stand, Namibian Police chief inspector from the Serious Crime Unit Rector Sandema said there were so many irregularities when Valombola was arrested and released in Windhoek.
“I felt that we needed to re-arrest the suspect as necessary procedures were not followed when he was released,” noted Sandema.
Sandema said having gone through the statements taken thus far, there appears no indication that Valombola was remorseful of the events that landed Ndjamba in ICU.
Volombola will apply to be released on bail and his hearing will continue today.