Petition by alleged separatists to Supreme Court is successful

20 Jul 2015 15:20pm
WINDHOEK, 20 JUL (NAMPA) - The Supreme Court has granted eight men leave to appeal the dismissal of their application challenging the High Court's jurisdiction to try them on high treason charges.
This came to light when the high treason suspects made another appearance in the High Court here on Monday morning.
“We (defence team) have now received a notice from the Supreme Court that the petition by the eight men is successful. The Supreme Court has granted leave for the eight men to appeal the dismissal of their application in that court.
“The defence team will be notified at a later stage about the exact date when the appeal hearing begins in the Supreme Court,” said State-sponsored defence lawyer Norman Tjombe, who is appearing for the eight men.
The matter was, thereafter, remanded until 28 October 2015 year in order to obtain the outcome of the appeal application from the Supreme Court.
Acting High Court Judge Petrus Unengu on Monday postponed the case to 28 October this year as per an agreement reached by Tjombe and prosecution representative, State Advocate Neville Wamambo in court on Monday for the outcome of the appeal application.
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 the 40-year-old John Mazila Ntembwe.
The group’s application for leave to appeal was dismissed by Acting High Court Judge Unengu on 16 March 2015.
Following the dismissal, the men instructed their defence lawyer to file a petition against such refusal before the Supreme Court.
The petition was filed on 07 April 2015.
The eight are 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, Unengu gave a ruling in favour of the State when he dismissed a special plea application by the men in which they challenged 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 application, they thereafter sought leave to appeal such dismissal, which was again dismissed by the same judge on 16 March 2015.
All of them were convicted of high treason and sentenced to various heavy sentences in 2007 by the late Acting High Court Judge John Manyarara.
Meanwhile, the Windhoek Supreme Court in July 2012 set aside all the convictions and sentences against the group after they successfully appealed against the convictions and sentences.
On that date, the Supreme Court ruled that the 2007 judgment 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 are claiming that after they were granted political asylum in neighbouring Botswana after the August 1999 attacks, that country's authorities unlawfully arrested them and handed them over to the Namibian Police between 2003 and 2004.
They further claim that they had not been properly informed of their constitutional rights with regard to legal representation, and were unlawfully arrested and 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 Namibian and were lawfully arrested by the Botswana authorities, noting that all legal and immigration procedures and guidelines were followed when they were handed over to the Namibian Police Force.
In the August 2007 judgment, Munuma, Makendano, Samulandela, Mushakwa, Salufu and Samuele were each sentenced to an effective 32 years’ imprisonment, while Ntombo and 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.
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 in the then Caprivi Region with the view to secede the region from the rest of the country.
It was further said the eight 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 in August 1999, they fled to the Dukwe refugee camp in Botswana.
Some members of the group later escaped from that refugee camp, and were deployed in Caprivi.
The men claim that they had nothing to do with the events of the failed secession.
They maintained that they are not Namibians but 'Caprivians', and that the then Caprivi Region was not part of Namibia.
However, the State presented unchallenged evidence that they are Namibians, and that they unlawfully committed the secession.
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 were again on Monday remanded in police custody at the Windhoek Correctional Facility.