Suspects in Muleke’s death still fighting for judge removal

05 Sep 2018 13:10pm
WINDHOEK, 05 SEP (NAMPA) – Five people arrested over the death of a Windhoek municipal worker in 2015 are still fighting for the removal of High Court Judge Johanna Salionga from continuing to preside over their trial.
The five are Annastacia Lubinda, 33; Dave Kondjera, 32; Donald Hindjou, 26; Abiud Uazeua, 35; and 27-year-old Dollam Tjitjahuma.
On Wednesday, the group, through their respective State-funded defence lawyers, brought an urgent joint application before the same judge in which they are all now appealing against the dismissal of an earlier application for the immediate removal of the judge from continuing to preside over their trial.
The appeal application against the dismissal of the earlier failed attempt for the removal of the judge will be heard again before Judge Salionga on Thursday morning.
The date for the hearing of the appeal application was decided upon as per agreement reached between the accused’s defence lawyers and State Advocate Martino Olivier in court on Wednesday.
The first attempt for the removal of the judge failed on 20 April 2018 when it was dismissed by the court.
The failed recusal application was brought before court on 16 March 2018 after the accused’s confessions and other self-incriminating statements were admitted as evidence on 05 March 2018.
In case the outcome of the appeal application will not be in favour of the accused, the disputed confessions and statements will thus be admitted as evidence before court and will be used by the prosecution against the accused during the continuation of the main trial.
In her ruling in respect of the initial recusal bid on 20 April, Salionga said all the allegations of bias and that she cannot handle the trial in an impartial manner raised by the accused, are without merits.
Salionga dismissed the application, saying the accused made the confessions and statements voluntarily and were not forced by the police as they are now claiming before court.
According to the judge, the accused were in full control of their minds when they gave the police investigating team detailed information about their participation in the murder of Peter Muleke, 36, on 31 March 2015.
The sixth accused - David Matali, 45 - died earlier this year after he collapsed while in police custody at the Windhoek Central Correctional Facility’s trial-awaiting section.
Muleke was found dead a few metres from his car in the Goreangab Dam area on the western outskirts of Katutura on 31 March 2015.
Lubinda, who is listed as accused number one in the matter, is Muleke’s wife.
The five have already entered not guilty pleas against the charges on 14 November 2017 in the presence of their respective defence lawyers Milton Engelbrecht, Brownell Uirab, Miriam Kenaruzo, Trevor Brockerhoff and Tuna Nhinda.
The accused remain in custody at the Windhoek Central Correctional Facility, pending the hearing of the appeal application against recusal dismissal on Thursday.