News and Information
Treason duo 'not guilty'
|May 31, 2007
| Treason duo 'not guilty'
TWO of the 12 men prosecuted in the second Caprivi high treason trial were acquitted in the High Court in Windhoek yesterday.
The last minutes of the trial of the two, Vincent Liswaniso Siliye (38) and Vincent Khasu Sinasi (47), was a noisy and disorderly affair, though.
Siliye and Sinasi both kept on chanting and singing in the dock - the same words in Silozi over and over and over - while Acting Judge John Manyarara battled to be heard over the din they were raising so that he could announce to them that they were found not guilty on all six charges that they have been facing.
With the two keeping up their chanting without skipping a beat to hear what was being said to them, Acting Judge Manyarara announced that due to concessions that the leader of the prosecution team in the trial, Deputy Prosecutor General Danie Small, had made in his closing arguments, Siliye and Sinasi were both found not guilty on all six charges.
It was "a strange situation" that the two had chosen to interrupt proceedings at that stage, Acting Judge Manyarara commented as he forged ahead with his ruling despite the disorder in the dock.
He said: "The State has proven beyond reasonable doubt that they are Namibian citizens.
However, the State has also conceded, quite properly in my view, that it has not been able to prove beyond reasonable doubt that they committed overt acts entitling the court to convict them of high treason, and that the other charges are so closely related to high treason that they must fall away."
The other charges that the two and their co-accused faced with the first count of high treason are counts of sedition, public violence, and illegal importation and possession of firearms and ammunition.
With Siliye and Sinasi still chanting away, apparently oblivious of the fact that the charges they had been facing since mid-December 2003 were about to be dismissed against them, Acting Judge Manyarara concluded: "Therefore the court finds accused four, Vincent Liswaniso Siliye, and accused five, Vincent Khasu Sinasi, not guilty of high treason.
"They are accordingly acquitted and discharged."
OUTSPOKEN Siliye and Sinasi were still singing without pausing to let the court's ruling register or sink in as they were led from the dock.
"No comment," was Siliye's only answer afterwards when he was asked what his reaction was to the acquittal, which he still did not appear to believe or trust.
Siliye, Sinasi and their 10 co-accused were prosecuted in connection with allegations that they had taken part in an alleged plot to secede the Caprivi Region from Namibia between September 1998 and December 2003.
The outspoken Siliye has been acting as the spokesperson for the 12 accused men since the lawyers who had been representing them withdrew from the case in July last year.
On the numerous occasions that he has addressed the court on behalf of the group, he has often sorely tested Acting Judge Manyarara's patience by charging that the prosecution and the court were biased against the accused and that they were being denied a fair trial.
Siliye has also repeatedly told the court that he and his co-accused considered themselves as Caprivian nationals and not Namibians, that they considered the Caprivi Region not to be part of Namibia, and that they did not recognise the power of the Namibian judicial system to try people for crimes alleged to have been committed in the Caprivi Region.
As statements made from the dock, these declarations did not form part of the evidence in the trial, though.
EMPTY DOCK None of the two acquitted men's co-accused were present in court to hear the ruling.
They conveyed to the court on Monday, through Siliye, that they were not interested in being present at proceedings in a trial that in their opinion did not concern them.
After Small had finished addressing the court yesterday on the judgement that is to be handed down they were brought back into the courtroom in order to be asked if they wanted to use the opportunity to address the court before it decides its verdict.
After a shout of "Viva Caprivi, viva!", they however started singing, repeating a pattern of behaviour that has marked the main part of their trial since March last year, and were again removed from the courtroom by Police officers.
The frequent absence of the 12 accused men from the court while the prosecution was presenting its witnesses' evidence may very well be the main factor that dealt a fatal blow to the State's case against Siliye and Sinasi.
On the third day of his address to the court on the judgement, Small told Acting Judge Manyarara yesterday that although State witnesses have mentioned the names of Siliye and Sinasi in their testimony and have implicated them in this way in respect of the high treason charge, no witness has been able to correctly identify the two men on photographs that were shown to them.
Without such positive identification, he could not argue that the State had proven that the people mentioned when witnesses implicated one Vincent Siliye and one Vincent Sinasi in their testimony were in fact the like-named individuals who were charged in this case, Small said.
He thus conceded that the prosecution did not believe that it had proven its case against Siliye and Sinasi.
"I have my suspicions and I think the court may have its suspicions, but it has been stated time and again that suspicion is not enough," Small said.
Included in the testimony in which Siliye's and Sinasi's names were mentioned were claims that both men were at camps in the Caprivi Region where members of the armed wing of a secessionist movement in the region, the Caprivi Liberation Army (CLA), were being trained in late 1998.
Their names also appeared on an alleged deployment list that was found with an alleged leader of the CLA after the Namibian security forces shot him in early September 1999.
The list is alleged to show which members of the CLA were being sent to attack what targets in the Katima Mulilo area on August 2 1999 - but, as Small indicated yesterday, the mere presence of their names on a list does not prove beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of high treason.
Small argued that with the other 10 accused men, however, the prosecution has presented evidence - including positive identification by witnesses of these accused men on photographs - to prove beyond reasonable doubt that each of them not only is a Namibian citizen and thus owes allegiance to the Namibian state, but that they have carried out acts that constitute high treason.
He asked the court to convict the other 10 of high treason only and added that he would not be asking for convictions on the remaining five charges as well.
The 10 remaining accused are set to return to court on July 30 for the delivery of their judgement.
They are Progress Kenyoka Munuma, Shine Samulandela Samulandela, Manepelo Manuel Makendano, Alex Sinjabata Mushakwa, Diamond Samuzula Salufu, Frederick Isaka Ntambilwa, Hoster Simasiku Ntombo, Boster Mubuyaeta Samuele, John Mazila Tembwe and Alex Mafwila Liswani.
All have remained in custody since their arrest.
The earliest of their arrests took place on July 18 2002, while the last arrests were carried out on December 12 2003.
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