Ruling on jurisdiction challenge ready by November 2014

19 Sep 2014 13:40pm
WINDHOEK, 19 SEP (NAMPA) – A ruling that will indicate whether the trial of the 10 men facing charges of high treason should proceed or be stopped, is to be given in the High Court in November 2014.
The verdict on the hearing of this special plea by the 10 men challenging the power and authority of the Namibian High Court's jurisdiction to try them, will be handed down in the High Court here on 28 November 2014.
Windhoek-based defence lawyer Norman Tjombe and the prosecution representative, State Advocate Neville Wamambo wrapped up their legal arguments on the hearing of the jurisdiction challenge on Thursday morning before presiding Acting High Court Judge Petrus Unengu.
After the legal representatives completed their legal arguments, Unengu postponed the hearing to 28 November this year for the handing down of the ruling.
The 10 men are Progress Munuma, 46; Manepelo Makendano, 55; Shine Samulandela, 41; Alex Mushakwa, 45; Diamond Salufu, 57; Alex Liswani, 47; Boster Samuele, 39 Frederick Ntambilwa, 45; Hoster Ntombo, 44; and 40-year-old John Ntembwe.
All of them were convicted and sentenced to various heavy sentences in 2007 for high treason by the late Acting High Court Judge John Manyarara in connection with their alleged involvement in a failed attempt to secede the then Caprivi Region (now Zambezi Region) from the rest of Namibia on 02 August 1999.
Meanwhile, the Windhoek Supreme Court in July last year set aside all the convictions and sentences against the group after they successfully appealed against such convictions and sentences.
On that date, the Supreme Court ruled that the 2007 high treason trial against the 10 men must be nullified, and that the matter be resubmitted to the High Court for the trial to start afresh.
In the jurisdiction challenge, the 10 men are each claiming that after they had been granted political asylum in neighbouring Botswana after August 1999 attacks, that country's authorities unlawfully arrested them and handed them over to the Namibian Police between 2003 and 2004.
“This move by the Botswana authorities was an act of abduction and in breach of both their domestic and international laws,” the group alleges.
They further claim that they had not been properly informed of their constitutional rights with regard to legal representation, were unlawfully arrested and being arraigned before a court with no jurisdiction to try them.
However, the prosecution submitted that the Namibian High Court has full jurisdiction to try them because they are all Namibians and they were lawfully arrested by the Botswana authorities, noting that all the legal and immigrations procedures and guidelines were followed to the letter when they were handed over to the Namibian Police Force.
In the first High Court matter, the 10 alleged separatists were heavily punished in August 2007 for allegedly having played a part in a 1999 failed plot to overthrow the Namibian State's authority in the then Caprivi Region and attempting to establish a separate State in that region.
At the time, Munuma, Makendano, Samulandela, Mushakwa, Salufu, Samuele and Liswani were each sentenced to an effective 32 years imprisonment.
The remaining three - Ntambilwa, Ntombo, Ntembwe - were each jailed for an effective 30 years.
They were convicted and sentenced on charges of high treason, sedition, public violence, illegal supply of weapons and the illegal possession of weapons and ammunition.
The late judge Manyarara sentenced all the 10 high treason convicts in absentia after they refused to sit in the courtroom and listen to the punishment.
Before sending all 10 convicts for such long prison terms, Manyarara said they had all participated equally in their failed plot to secede the Caprivi Region from the rest of Namibia.
Based on an unchallenged summary of prima facie evidence led by State witnesses in the High Court trial in 2007, the group was found to have attended several clandestine meetings during 1998 and in 1999 at a number of places in the Caprivi Region with the view to secede that region from the rest of the country.
This was allegedly done shortly after former Member of Parliament and their leader, Mishake Muyongo left Parliament and pronounced himself on the secession ideas.
It was further said that the 10 men were part of those who recruited several people for the purpose of joining the so-called Caprivi Liberation Army (CLA).
Some of them are said to have gone to Angola's Unita-controlled areas, and returned to the Caprivi Region with weapons.
After the attacks on Government installations on 02 August 1999, they fled the country and joined others at the Dukwe refugee camp in Botswana.
Some members of the group later escaped from that refugee camp, and were deployed in the Caprivi Region, the court heard.
On the contrary, the 10 men claim that they had nothing to do with the events of the failed plot to secede the Caprivi Region from the rest of Namibia.
They had maintained that they were not Namibians but 'Caprivians', and that the then Caprivi Region was not part of Namibia.
However, the State presented unchallenged evidence that the 10 men are Namibians, and that they unlawfully committed the acts to try and secede the Caprivi Region from the rest of Namibia.
The State also presented that the group was in illegal possession of war materials and that they attacked several places in Caprivi, damaged property and killed those who attempted to get in their way.
The 10 men remain in police custody at the Windhoek Central Prison's holding cells until their next court appearance on 28 November.
Meanwhile, Vincent Sinasi and Vincent Siliye, who were earlier charged along with the 10 men, were acquitted after the prosecution's case was closed.
At the time, it was also ordered that all people who were earlier charged with high treason and decided to testify on behalf of the State should be discharged from any prosecution for high treason and related charges in the case.