18 Jul 2013 08:00
WINDHOEK, 18 JUL (NAMPA) ? The legal representation in the retrial of 10 men convicted and sentenced in 2007 for high treason after a failed attempt to secede the Caprivi Region from Namibia, will be decided upon by defence lawyers and a prosecution team in September this year.
The Windhoek Supreme Court on Monday ordered the retrial of the 10 alleged Caprivi separatists after they successfully appealed against their convictions and sentences on the grounds that the High Court had been biased against them and that the late acting High Court Judge John Manyarara who presided over the trial should have recused himself from the matter.
The group - Progress Munuma, 46; Manepelo Makendano, 55; Shine Samulandela, 41; Alex Mushakwa, 45; Diamond Salufu, 57; Boster Samuele, 39; Alex Liswani, 47; Frederick Ntambilwa, 45; Hoster Ntombo, 44; and 40-year-old John Ntembwe - made another appearance before High Court Judge-President Petrus Damaseb on Thursday morning, when the retrial of their alleged high treason case was postponed to 19 September upon an agreement reached by Deputy Prosecutor-General Danie Small and defence lawyer Norman Tjombe.
The case was today remanded until 19 September this year for the next pre-trial conference of case management to be held in order to allow both the prosecution and the defence to sort out issues pertaining to the legal representation of the 10 men with the Justice Ministry's Directorate of Legal Aid.
The postponement was also granted by the court in order to allow the prosecuting authority to fully verify and ascertain the availability of all the State witnesses who will be summoned again to appear and testify before court on behalf of the State when retrial proper begins.
The 10 accused men were also on Thursday informed that fresh charges against them will be drawn up by the prosecution and the disclosure of the docket will be forwarded to them through their yet-to-be Government-sponsored defence lawyers in due course.
On Monday this week, the Windhoek 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 a retrial.
The Registrar of the High Court was directed to put the matter on the court roll by no later than 01 August 2013.
In the High Court matter, the 10 alleged separatists were on August 2007 heavily punished for having played a part in a 1999 failed plot to overthrow the Namibian State's authority in the Caprivi Region and establish a separate State in that region.
At the time, Munuma, Makendano, Samulandela, Mushakwa, Salufu, Samuele and Liswani were each sentenced to an effective of 32 years imprisonment.
The remaining three - Ntambilwa, Ntombo, Ntembwe were each jailed for an effective 30 years.
It was also ordered that all the people, who were earlier charged with high treason and decided to testify on behalf of the State, should be discharged from any prosecution of high treason and related charges in the case.
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 acting High Court Judge John Manyarara imposed the stiff punishment in the matter, which also saw all the 10 high treason convicts being sentenced in absentia after they totally refused to sit in the courtroom and listen to the punishment.
Before sending all 10 convicts for such long prison terms, acting High Court Judge Manyarara said all the convicts participated equally in their failed plot to secede the Caprivi Region from the rest Namibia.
Based on an unchallenged summary of prima facie evidence led by State witnesses the High Court trial in 2007, the group was found to have attended several clandestine meetings during 1998 and in 1999 held 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 secessionist ideas.
It was further said that the 10 men were part of those who recruited several people for the purposes of joining the so-called Caprivi Liberation Army.
Some of them are said to have gone to Angola's Unita controlled areas and returned to the Caprivi region with weapons.
And later 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 Dukwe Refugee Camp and were deployed in the Caprivi region, the court heard.
On the contrary, the 10 men had claimed 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 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 of criminality to secede the Caprivi Region from the rest of Namibia.
The State also proved that the 10, were in illegal possession of war materials and that they attacked several places in the Caprivi, damaged property and killed those who attempted to get in their way.
Meanwhile, Vincent Sinasi and Vincent Siliye, who were earlier charged along with the 10 men, were acquitted and set free after the closing of the prosecution's case when the State could not prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.
Deputy Prosecutor-General Small assisted by Anna-Marie Lategan handled the State's case at the time of the trial in the High Court.
The 10 men remain in police custody at the Windhoek Central Prison's holding cells until their next court appearance on 19 September this year.