Geingob's parly statement raises legal storm

16 Jun 2013 07:40
GOBABIS, 16 JUN (NAMPA) - A legal tug-of-war played itself out in the Gobabis Magistrate?s Court on Thursday between the prosecution and the defense counsels over the inclusion as evidence of Prime Minister, Dr Hage Geingob?s Parliamentary statement concerning the goings-on at this eastern town.
In what could probably be a test case in laying out the independence of the judiciary from the legislature, the magistrate?s court witnessed arguments on whether or not the PM?s statement should be admitted as evidence during the bail hearing of a racial discrimination and assault case.
The Prime Minister last week joined the fray of condemnation against racial discrimination, noting that such acts were against the policy of national reconciliation and could jeopardise the peace and stability currently prevailing in the country.
Geingob called for severe punishment against perpetrators of such acts if found guilty by the courts of law.
Gobabis Constituency councillor Phillipus Katamelo, who was called as a state witness in the bail hearing, attempted to enter the PM?s parliamentary speech into evidence, but was stopped short in his tracks by defense counsel Louis Botes who is representing the two accused in the matter.
According to Botes, no politician, despite his standing in government, should be permitted to dictate to the judiciary, ?as the courts are capable of making their own decisions and do not need the direction or input of politicians to reach verdicts?.
Botes questioned on what legal grounds should such a statement, made by a politician in that capacity, be admitted into the court of law which is supposed to be independent of the legislature.
?There is simply no subject of interest in the said statement. It is hearsay evidence made by a politician with no personal experience into the matter at hand,? Botes argued.
He further said there was also no basis why such a statement by a politician should be allowed by the court, noting that if it ends up being the case, ?we will otherwise be listening to politicians the whole day?.
The state, led by Gobabis control Presecutor Johan Pienaar, however countered the objection, noting that while the statement might be interpreted as hearsay, it correctly reflects the views of the public.
He said as hearsay was permissible in a bail hearing, such a statement would correctly reflect the state?s condemnation of racial discrimination.
Magistrate Victor Nyazo then allowed the statement to be entered into evidence, but merely on the basis of it serving as hearsay evidence.
Niko Kotze and Frederik du Plessies both stand accused of contravening the racial discrimination act and assault on a young Gobabis entrepreneur, Levi Katire, after he allegedly entered a whites-only bar at the town on 01 June 2013.
Du Plessies? initial charge of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm was changed to attempted murder and he too was added to the racial discrimination count already laid against accused number one - Kotze.
The bail hearing will be heard again on 24 June 2013.
The accused are remanded in custody.