No leave to appeal for 8 alleged Caprivi separatists

16 Mar 2015 11:50am
WINDHOEK, 16 MAR (NAMPA) – An application by eight (8) men seeking leave to appeal against the dismissal of of an earlier application challenging the power and authority of the Namibian High Court's jurisdiction to try them on high treason charges, has been dismissed.
The eight men are all facing various charges of high treason 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.
On 27 November 2014, Acting High Court Judge Petrus Unengu gave a ruling in favour of the State when he dismissed a special plea application by the eight men in which they were challenging the power and authority of the Namibian High Court's jurisdiction to try them on charges of high treason.
Not happy with the dismissal of their special plea application, the eight men, thereafter, sought leave to appeal such dismissal.
Their application for leave to appeal against the dismissal of their special plea application has however been dismissed in a judgement handed down by Acting High Court Judge Unengu on Monday morning.
'This court has, however, on the authority of case law, found that the eight applicants failed to establish special circumstances in the matter to justify an appeal at this stage before conviction and sentence.
'Alternatively, this court held that no prospects of success of appeal had been established by the eight applicants for another court to come to a different conclusion. This application for leave to appeal against the dismissal of the special plea application is declined, ' said Acting Judge Unengu in his ruling on Monday.
The eight men are Progress Kenyoka Munuma, 46; Manuel Manepelo Makendano, 55; Shine Samulandela Samulandela, 41; Alex Sinjabata Mushakwa, 45; Diamond Samunzala Salufu, 57; Boster Mabuyaeta Samuele, 39; 45; Hoster Simasiku Ntombo, 44; and 40-year-old John Mazila 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 Capriv Region from the rest of Namibia on 02 August 1999.
Meanwhile, the Windhoek Supreme Court in July 2012 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 eight men must be nullified, and that the matter be resubmitted to the High Court for the trial to start afresh.
In the failed jurisdiction challenge, the eight 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 eight 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 and Samuele were each sentenced to an effective 32 years imprisonment.
The remaining two- 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 eight high treason convicts in absentia after they refused to sit in the courtroom and listen to the punishment.
Before sending all eight 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 then 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 eight 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-controled areas, and returned to the Cprivi 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 eight 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 eight 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 eight men remain in police custody at the Windhoek Correctional Facility (formely Windhoek Central Prison)
Windhoek-based defence lawyer Norman Tjombe defended the eight men.
Prosecution representative, State Advocate Neville Wamambo appeared for the State.
(NAMPA)
SKE/CT