News and Information
Treason trial focus moves onto ex-MP Mwilima
|February 7, 2006
| * WERNER MENGES
FORMER National Assembly member Geoffrey Mwilima became the focus of much of the testimony in the main Caprivi high treason trial as the long-running case marked its 90th day of court proceedings last week.
Most of the testimony that the prosecution has presented to Judge Elton Hoff during the past two weeks have dealt with meetings at which - so claimed the State witnesses who testified - people in the Caprivi Region were first told about a plan to secede the region from Namibia.
Mwilima not only attended some of these meetings, but also organised and addressed some, witnesses have claimed, eliciting challenges from Mwilima's defence lawyer, Jorge Neves, who has told the witnesses that the ex-MP would deny having attended meetings with them.
The latest witness to tell the court about meetings that took place in the Caprivi some seven years ago, is Progress Munsu Mulongo, the 25th State witness to have given evidence in the trial so far.
Mulongo still has to face cross-questioning from Neves Mulongo started testifying last Wednesday.
He has told the court that he attended a meeting at the DTA office at Katima Mulilo in 1998, when he was still the chairman of the DTA branch at the village of Kasheshe, some 25 kilometres southwest of Katima Mulilo.
That meeting had been called by Mishake Muyongo, Mulongo said in the early stages of his testimony - an aspect which he was to deviate from as he started facing cross-questioning from defence lawyer Greyson Nyoni on Friday.
At the time of that claimed meeting, Muyongo was still the President of the DTA, but was also the prime mover behind a separatist movement that had sprung up in the Caprivi Region.
Geoffrey Mwilima was also at that meeting, where Muyongo announced that he had left the Namibian Parliament and had returned to the Caprivi Region with a mission that the region should be "cut" from Namibia and should "stand on its own", Mulongo said.
The way that was to be done, according to Muyongo, was by using firearms, he told the court.
In Muyongo's words the region was to be separated from Namibia "by the way of the barrel of a gun", Mulongo related.
Muyongo also told the meeting that "the Owambo people were sidelining the people of Caprivi" when it came to jobs, and used this as an explanation for his idea that the region had to secede, Mulongo testified.
Geoffrey Mwilima also stood up at that meeting and complemented Muyongo's statements, by telling the meeting that it was true what Muyongo had said and that this was why the Caprivi Region "had to stand on its own", Mulongo added.
Not everyone at that meeting was impressed by what was being said, though, Mulongo told the court.
He and three other branch chairmen of the DTA found the idea "a strange thing" which they could not agree with, he added.
Except for that meeting, another meeting, which was called by Mwilima and the then-Governor of Caprivi, John Mabuku, also took place at Kasheshe in 1998, Mulongo continued.
The people who attended that meeting were told that Muyongo had sent the two speakers, Mwilima and Mabuku, to inform them that he had left Parliament and the DTA in order to secede the Caprivi Region from Namibia, Mulongo testified.
Mabuku and Mwilima further said that this secessionist goal was to be achieved "by the use of firearms", he added.
He said their motivation for the goal of seceding the region was that "the Owambo people" were "segregating".
As with the first meeting at the DTA office, some of the people present at Kasheshe were not immediately in agreement with the idea, Mulongo told the court.
By the end of that meeting, he said, most of the people had left the meeting to show their disagreement.
Unlike some of the previous witnesses who also mentioned Mwilima in their testimony, Mulongo was able to identify Mwilima in court as the person he had been speaking about.
Then, however, he stumbled badly after cross-questioning from defence counsel Nyoni had got under way.
Changing his testimony, Mulongo told the court that Muyongo never attended or addressed any of the three meetings related to the issue of secession where he was also present.
The first meeting on this score was at Kasheshe, and no longer at the DTA office at Katima Mulilo, and it was addressed by the then-Governor Mabuku alone, Mulongo's altered testimony would have it.
A second meeting, at the DTA office, was addressed by one Chris Mushanana, while a third meeting was called and addressed by Mwilima, Mulongo now claimed.
The State's 24th witness in the trial, Daniel Sitali, had also mentioned Mushanana as having addressed a meeting where the idea of secession was introduced to the people of the Caprivi.
According to Sitali, Mwilima and Mushanana were in charge of that meeting, which he said took place in 1998.
Sitali told the court that Mwilima had also been present at a previous meeting, in the same year, where Muyongo himself aired the view that the region should secede.
Sitali told Judge Hoff that he has known Mwilima from the day that the former MP was born.
Yet in court, Sitali was not able to identify either Mwilima, or any of the other people who had featured in his testimony.
The trial continues today.
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