News and Information

Kick-off date for second Caprivi treason trial shifted back by another four weeks
May 17, 2005


JUNE 13 is now the scheduled starting date of what would be the second trial of suspects accused of involvement in a plan to secede the Caprivi Region from Namibia.

The 12 men who will be standing in the dock when the trial starts, returned to the High Court in Windhoek again yesterday for what had been supposed to be the beginning of their trial.

The matter of the legal representation of one of the twelve, John Mazila Tembwe, however saw to it that the trial could not proceed as initially planned.

Defence counsel Nate Ndauendapo, whom the Directorate of Legal had instructed to represent the twelve, told Acting Judge John Manyarara that due to a conflict of interests between eleven members of the group and Tembwe, he would not be able to represent Tembwe.

A legal aid counsel working with the Directorate, Duard Kesslau, had been instructed to represent Tembwe instead, Patience Daringo, who is also employed in the Directorate, further informed the Acting Judge.

Kesslau has been provided with a copy of the Police docket of the case, and will need time to study this and consult with his client, but should be ready for the trial to start on June 13, Daringo added.

Tembwe would have none of that, though.

He told Acting Judge Manyarara that he did not want to be represented by a counsel from the Legal Aid Directorate, but wanted to have a lawyer working in private practice instructed to appear for him.

He complained that he was being discriminated against, and asked the court to order the Directorate "to provide me with a legal representative of my choice, not of their choice".

Tembwe had not even met Kesslau yet, Deputy Prosecutor-General Danie Small told Acting Judge Manyarara in reply to Tembwe's remarks.

He said it did not mean, when one is looking in the eyes of the State to be provided with legal representation, that one could insist on being provided with the most senior counsel of your choice.

After an adjournment to take further instructions from the Legal Aid Director, Daringo made it clear to the court that Tembwe would face the choice of either accepting Kesslau as his counsel, or rejecting him - and then standing trial unrepresented.

"I cannot trust those people," Tembwe protested, claiming that he could not be represented by a person from the same institution - the Namibian Government - that had originally caused him to be arrested.

Tembwe would have to sort out this matter within the next four weeks.

The case of the twelve was postponed to June 13 as the starting date of their trial.

Tembwe, though, would have to return to the High Court on May 27, by which time he would actually have had a chance to meet Kesslau and consult with him, to indicate to the court what the position would be with regard to his legal representation.

If the trial starts on June 13, Small also informed the Acting Judge, it would run to July 29, and then would proceed during the three weeks from September 19 to October 7.

If that plan comes to fruition, the second high treason trial may still overtake the first trial, which has been in tortuous and frequently interrupted progress in the High Court at Grootfontein since late August last year.

The 120 men accused in that trial are set to return to court today.

It is expected that the State will ask today that the trial be postponed for as long as five and a half months, and to be moved to Windhoek.


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