State lawyer resignation stalls special plea in treason trial

19 Feb 2018 14:20pm
WINDHOEK, 19 FEB (NAMPA) - The continuation of the hearing of a special plea in which seven men are challenging the jurisdiction of Namibia’s High Court to try them on charges of high treason saw another delay on Monday.
The hearing was scheduled before Acting High Court Judge Petrus Unengu at the newly-refurbished High Court building at the Windhoek Central Correctional Facility, but could not proceed because the prosecution representative, State Advocate Neville Wamambo has resigned.
It was announced in court on Monday that Zambian national Wamambo tendered his resignation on 01 February this year and has now taken up new appointment as a judge in Zimbabwe.
The prosecuting authority has now assigned Senior Public Prosecutor Lourens Campher to represent the State in the matter when the hearing resumes on Wednesday.
The special plea is particularly based on a legal point in which the group claims they are Caprivians and not Namibians and for this reason, Namibia’s High Court has no legal power to try them for high treason.
The seven men face charges of high treason for their alleged involvement in a failed attempt to secede the then Caprivi (now Zambezi) Region from the rest of Namibia on 02 August 1999.
They are Progress Kenyoka Munuma, Manuel Manepelo Makendano, Shine Samulandela Samulandela, Alex Sinjabata Mushakwa, Diamond Samunzala Salufu, Hoster Simasiku Ntombo and John Mazila Ntambwe.
On 22 August 2016, they suffered a legal blow when the Supreme Court dismissed their applications in which they were appealing the dismissal of their joint application, challenging the Windhoek High Court’s jurisdiction to try them on high treason.
Their appeal applications were dismissed by Deputy Chief Justice Petrus Damaseb with Chief Justice Peter Shivute, Judges of Appeal Fred Chomba and Dave Smuts, as well as Acting Judge of Appeals Yvonne Mokgoro concurring with the ruling.
However, an appeal application by appellant Boster Mubuyaeta Samuele was successful at the time and he was set free in 2016.
The seven remain in police custody at the Windhoek Central Correctional Facility with no option to post bail until the continuation of their special plea on Wednesday.
Defence lawyers Ilse Agenbach and George Neves are representing the seven accused men.