16 Oct 2015 14:50pm
WINDHOEK, 16 OCT (NAMPA) - American national Kevan Donell Townsend, who is facing a charge of murder in connection with the killing of Windhoek resident Andre Heckmair in 2011, now has a new defence lawyer.
The Ministry of Justice's Directorate of Legal Aid has instructed Windhoek-based defence lawyer Mbanga Siyomuinji to represent him.
Siyomuinji was present in court on Friday morning during a pre-trial conference of case management when the case was ordered to stand down until 13 November this year in order to allow the lawyer to properly consult with his client on how to proceed with the matter when trial begins.
On 23 September this year, Townsend unceremoniously fired another Government-funded defence lawyer Joshua Kaumbi due to alleged poor legal performance during court proceedings.
I have completely lost trust and confidence in this defence lawyer. His legal performance in court is not satisfactory to me. It seems to me this defence lawyer has lost interest in defending me and my case to the best of his ability.
I, therefore, was left with no option other than terminating the service of this defence lawyer, Townsend said as he fired Kaumbi last month.
Kaumbi also contributed to the termination of his services, as he was not present in court on 28 August this year when Townsend needed his presence in court that day.
The 28-year-old Townsend is charged in the matter alongside countryman, Marcus Kevin Tomas, 29.
The two accused men each face six charges of murder; robbery with aggravating circumstances; the unlawful importation of a firearm into Namibia; the illegal possession of a firearm; the illegal possession of ammunition; and attempting to defeat or obstruct the course of justice.
Townsend denies any involvement in the killing, and has already entered a not guilty plea to the six charges levelled against him.
Windhoek-based defence lawyer Monty Karuaihe is defending Tomas on the instructions of the Justice Ministrys Directorate of Legal Aid.
Deputy Prosecutor-General, Antonia Verhoef is appearing for the State.
During the duo's first court appearance on 14 January 2011, Townsend denied knowing the deceased, claiming that he first heard that name after his arrest.
Townsend and Tomas are the only names mentioned by the Namibian Police Force (NamPol) so far in connection with the investigation into the murder.
According to the police, Heckmair was scheduled to return to Europe for studies after spending a holiday with his family in Namibia, but was found dead behind the wheel of a Land Cruiser pick-up at a cul-de-sac in Klein Windhoek.
Investigations launched by the police led them to a guesthouse in Windhoek West later that day, where they arrested Townsend and Tomas on a charge of illegal possession of marijuana so that they could keep them in custody while they were busy investigating the murder case and their links to Heckmair.
NamPol's Crimes Co-ordinator for the Khomas Region, Deputy Commissioner Sylvanus Nghishidimbwa said at the time the police had been unable to locate the murder weapon or the mobile phone and wallet containing at least N.dollars 1 000 that were missing from Heckmair's car.
Townsend told the police that he is a resident of New York, while Tomas said he lives in Los Angeles.
The two Americans are held at the Windhoek Correctional Services facility, with no option to post bail until their next court appearance on 13 November this year.