Mwilima sorry for loss of lives in Caprivi secession attack

09 Oct 2015 18:10pm
WINDHOEK, 09 OCT (NAMPA) - Former member of the National Assembly (NA), Geoffrey Mwilima, who was found guilty on high treason charges last month, on Friday tendered an apology to family of people who lost lives in the attacks at Katima Mulilo on 02 August 1999.
Undisputed evidence presented before court showed that a total of nine Namibians, mostly members of the Namibian Police Force (NamPol) and Namibian Defence Force (NDF), lost their lives during the attacks in a failed attempt by secessionists to secede the then Caprivi Region from the rest of Namibia.
The 60-year-old Mwilima tendered his apology to the family members, relatives and friends of the deceased persons for the loss of lives, as well as to the entire Namibian people for the destruction of properties and suffering that day.
“I am very sorry for what had happened on 02 August 1999 that led to the deaths of innocent Namibians and destruction of properties when members of the Caprivi Liberation Army (CLA) (a military wing of the United Democratic Party (UDP) attacked Government installations at Katima Mulilo.
“I did not personally take part in the attacks. But I am sorry for the loss of lives and destruction of properties,” he said.
Mwilima tendered his apology to the Namibian people in his evidence in mitigation of sentencing that was presented before presiding High Court Judge, Elton Hoff, by his State-funded defence lawyer, George Neves on Friday morning.
The former parliamentarian also asked the court to consider his advanced age and poor health conditions when imposing the sentence in the matter.
Mwilima pleaded with the court for a lenient punishment, saying he is suffering from high blood pressure and acute diabetes and kidney failures, following his incarceration of about 16 years while awaiting the finalisation of his case.
He was arrested on 04 August 1999 and was severely tortured and assaulted by members of the Namibian law-enforcement units and security forces. The evidence of torture was presented before court during trial.
In addition, Adour Mutalife Chika, 35, who is the youngest of the 30 men found guilty on high treason charges, also tendered an apology to the family of the people who lost their lives as a result of the attacks.
Chika was 19 years old when he was arrested in August 1999 in connection with the failed attempt to secede the region from the rest of Namibia.
“I was not affiliated to any political party with the idea of secession. I was also not a member or supporter of the United Democratic Party.
“I did not personally take part in the attacks in Katima Mulilo on 02 August 1999 but I am very sorry for the loss of lives of people,” stated Chika.
The process of sentencing continues on Monday.
Deputy Prosecutor-General, Taswald July and Senior Public Prosecutor, Amaze Adams are appearing for the State.
State-sponsored defence lawyers in the high treason trial are Patrick Kauta; George Neves; Clive Kavendjii; Profysen Muluti; Ilse Agenbach; Jonathan Samukange; Victor Kachaka; Percy McNally; and Hennie Kruger.
On 14 September this year, the 30 men were all found guilty on a charge of high treason and other related charges.
On the same day, Judge Hoff acquitted and released another 35 men after the State failed to prove their involvement beyond a reasonable doubt in the failed plot to secede the region from the rest of the country.
The 30 convicted men each face 278 charges, including a count of high treason, nine charges of murder and 240 counts of attempted murder in connection with the failed secession attempts.
All of them remain in custody at the Windhoek Correctional Facility (former Windhoek Central Prison)'s holding cells until Monday for the continuation of the process of sentencing.
The 30 convicted men were separately charged and convicted for taking part in the attacks at Katima Mulilo, or providing support to the so-called Caprivi Liberation Army (CLA).
The convicts took part in the bloody attacks on the Katima Mulilo Police Station; the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation's (NBC) regional office; Wenela Border Post; and Mpacha Military Base and Airport.
They were said to have been under the leadership of UDP leader Mishake Muyongo.
Muyongo and many other leaders of the UDP and CLA fled to neighbouring Botswana before the attacks and after the Namibian security forces discovered their underground movement before enforcing tightened security measures in the Caprivi Region.
Muyongo and Mafwe Chief Boniface Mamili are now exiled in Denmark after Namibia pressured Botswana to send them back home to stand trial.