Supreme Court allows judge recusal from Teko trial

19 Jun 2017 15:30pm
WINDHOEK, 19 JUN (NAMPA) – The Supreme Court on Monday allowed Acting High Court Judge Maphios Cheda to recuse himself from the trial of three people arrested in 2009 for alleged fraud worth over N.dollars 120 million at the Ministry of Finance.
Supreme Court Deputy Chief Justice Petrus Damaseb, with Judges of Appeal Elton Hoff and Dave Smuts concurring, allowed the recusal of the judge in a ruling delivered here Monday morning.
The matter was then sent back to the Windhoek High Court for their trial to start afresh before another judge.
Damaseb, in agreement with the other two judges, said the apprehension of bias by the appellants was that of reasonable individuals and that such apprehension was based on reasonable grounds.
He said Cheda, in his view, should have recused himself from presiding over the trial.
“The ruling of the High Court of dismissing the first application for the judge’s recusal is set aside,” said Damaseb.
The three appellants are Namibians Teckla Lameck, 48, and Jerobeam Mokaxwa, 30, and Chinese national Yang Fan, 39.
On 14 November 2014, Cheda dismissed the trio’s application for his recusal.
Not happy with this ruling, the trio’s privately instructed defence lawyer, Sisa Namandje, approached the Supreme Court with an urgent appeal against the dismissal of his clients’ application for Cheda to be recused from the trial.
All three accused face 18 charges of fraud.
Lameck, a former Public Service Commission member; Mokaxwa, Lameck’s business partner in the Teko Trading company; and Yang have denied all 18 charges of fraud with not guilty pleas at the beginning of their trial in April 2014.
The two Namibians are free on bail of N.dollars 50 000 each, while Yang is free on bail of N.dollars 1 million.
They were arrested on 08 and 09 July 2009 by officials of the Anti-Corruption Commission in connection with a scam through which the Ministry of Finance bought security-scanning equipment from a Chinese company.
Advocate Raymond Heathcote with Gerson Narib represented the three appellants on the instructions of Sisa Namandje law firm.
Retired Senior Public Prosecutor Danie Small and Jack Eixab appeared for the respondents - being Office of the Prosecutor-General.