State succeeds in Omuthiya voter fraud discharge appeal

21 Nov 2017 15:00pm
WINDHOEK, 21 NOV(NAMPA) - The State has successfully appealed against the discharge of three men who were in January 2014 cleared of fraud in connection with the voter registration scandal in the local authority elections of Omuthiya in February 2008.
The trio - Magnus Nangombe, Electoral Commission of Namibia’s (ECN) chief systems administrator, Nicodemus Mingelius, and former elections director Philemon Kanime - were cleared of any wrongdoing in a judgement handed down by Regional Court Magistrate Sarel Jacobs on 24 January 2014.
Not happy with this discharge, State Advocate Salomon Kanyemba approached the High Court with an urgent appeal application against the acquittals.
On Tuesday, High Court Judges Christie Liebenberg and Alfred Siboleka set aside the discharge and per the ruling, the matter is now referred back to the Regional Court in Katutura.
The voter registration fraud trial will thus start afresh before the same magistrate or before another regional court magistrate in case Jacobs is not available.
Furthermore, the three men will be summoned through their lawyers to appear again in the regional court at a later stage for the continuation of the trial.
Windhoek-based defence lawyer Rohann Linde represented the three men in the appeal.
Kanime was accused of wrongfully pretending to the ECN and Government that Nangombe was on 06 February 2008 lawfully and properly registered at Omuthiya in order to vote.
Nangombe and Mingelius were also charged on the same count.
The three men had each pleaded not guilty to all the charges against them.
During trial, Advocate Albert Strydom said there was no evidence placed before court linking his client, Nangombe, to the charge he was facing, nor that he was part of a syndicate to taint the Omuthiya elections.
Strydom had strongly questioned the prosecution’s evidence before court, which he labelled as mere hearsay.
Advocate Hennie Barnard, representing Mingelius and Kanime, said his clients had no charges to answer.
It is alleged that Kanime and Mingelius got Nangombe fraudulently registered as a voter in the local authority election of Omuthiya during the period between 06 and 19 February 2008.
It is further alleged that Nangombe failed to register himself as a voter during the normal voter registration period from 04 to 08 February 2008, and that his name was fraudulently placed on the voters roll after the end of the registration period when he was no longer permitted to be registered as a voter.
Nangombe and Mingelius had allegedly forged a voter registration application document in Nangombe’s name between 06 and 19 February 2008, and used this document to get his name placed on the questionable Omuthiya voters roll.
Nangombe was poised to be a candidate for the Rally for Democracy and Progress political party in the Omuthiya local authority election, until his name was removed from the voters roll, and the initial plans to hold the election there were scrapped.
The Omuthiya municipal elections were planned for 29 February 2008, but were called off at the eleventh hour, amidst accusations of inefficiency and questions about political party loyalty.
The elections finally took place on 26 September 2008.
Nangombe is now back with the Swapo party.