Separatists appeal case not yet in Supreme Court

30 Mar 2016 19:10pm
WINDHOEK, 30 MAR (NAMPA) - The hearing of eight men appealing the dismissal of their application challenging the High Court's jurisdiction to try them on high treason charges, has not yet been heard in the Supreme Court.
This came to light when the eight high treason suspects made another appearance in the High Court before Acting High Court Judge Petrus Unengu on Wednesday morning.
“The appeal case is not yet heard in the Supreme Court. However, we have received some information that the appeal case will be heard during the next few months. The Registrar of the Supreme Court is still busy with the process of finding a suitable date for the hearing,” State-sponsored defence lawyer Norman Tjombe said.
The matter was, thereafter, postponed to 17 August 2016 for the announcement of the date of the start of the appeal application in the Supreme Court.
Acting Judge Unengu postponed the case as per an agreement reached by Tjombe and prosecution representative, Deputy Prosecutor-General Ed Marondedze in court Wednesday morning.
Marondedze was standing in for his colleague, State Advocate Neville Wamambo who is handling the prosecution's case in the matter.
On 20 July 2015, the Supreme Court granted the eight men leave to appeal the dismissal of their application challenging the High Court's jurisdiction to try them on high treason charges shortly after the group sent a petition to the Supreme Court.
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 Judge Unengu on 16 March 2015.
Following the dismissal, the men instructed their defence lawyer, Tjombe, to file a petition against such refusal before the Supreme Court.
The petition was filed on 07 April 2015 and is still to be heard in the Supreme Court.
The eight men are each 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.
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 the 2007 judgment be nullified, and that the matter be resubmitted to the High Court for the trial to start afresh.
The eight are claiming that after they were granted political asylum in neighbouring Botswana following 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 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 in 1998 and 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 all 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 Wednesday remanded in police custody at the Windhoek Correctional Facility.