News and Information

New defence lawyer enters Caprivi high treason trial
December 2, 2004

A THIRD Zimbabwean lawyer yesterday joined the ranks of the group of defence lawyers representing the 120 suspects in the Caprivi high treason trial in the High Court at Grootfontein.

The latest proceedings in the trial were brief and took place in the absence of the 120 in the High Court in Windhoek yesterday.

However, if all goes according to plan, those few minutes in court may just mark a crucial turning point in the ongoing and oft-frustrated process of getting the trial running and banishing the sort of repeated delays that have dogged the treason case for more than five years.

During yesterday's proceedings Zimbabwean lawyer Christopher Dube informed Judge Elton Hoff that he had been instructed to take over the legal representation of ten of the high treason suspects.

Dube, aged 37, has been practicing as a lawyer since 1993.

He has his own law firm in Bulawayo in Zimbabwe, and will be joining two fellow Zimbabweans, Greyson Nyoni and Jonathan Samukange, as well as Zambians Winnie Sithole Mwenda and Victor Kachaka and Namibian lawyers Percy McNally, Patrick Kauta, Hennie Krueger and Jorge Neves at the defence desks in the High Court at Grootfontein.

Dube enters the trial after nine of his new clients - including alleged leading figures in the case, such as alleged Caprivi Liberation Army commander John Samboma, former teacher turned alleged separatist combatant Aggrey Makendano and former Policeman Derick Ndala - had forced the withdrawal of their initial defence counsel, Zambian lawyer Henry Chanda, from the trial on October 19.

Chanda has since then also stopped representing his tenth client, Moses Kayoka, who was in hospital in Windhoek for an operation at the time that his co-accused forced the lawyer's withdrawal because of complaints on their part that he was not carrying out their instructions to their liking.

Chanda's withdrawal stopped the trial in its tracks after the prosecution had only managed to present the testimony of two of their witnesses - who may still number in the hundreds, according to the State - to the court during 26 days of proceedings since the proper start of the trial on August 23.

With Dube stepping in to fill Chanda's place, the trial may again start moving along when the matter returns to court at Grootfontein on January 24 next year.

All of the 120 accused involved in the trial remain in custody, which is a position that most of them have been in for over five years already without having been convicted on any charge.

They are facing 278 charges, including counts of high treason and sedition, nine charges of murder, 240 counts of attempted murder and charges of illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.

All of these relate to their alleged involvement in a separatist movement that is accused of having tried to secede the Caprivi Region from the rest of Namibia during 1998 and 1999.


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