News and Information
Three-month delay for second treason trial
|April 9, 2006
* WERNER MENGES
A WEEKLONG cooling-off period that followed on some of the most heated statements so far from the dock in the second Caprivi high treason trial is set to turn into a three-month break in the trial.
The trial, of which the main part started before Acting Judge John Manyarara in the High Court in Windhoek on March 6, has been adjourned until July 4.
Except for two appearances in court by 11 of the 12 men charged in the case last week, there were no substantial proceedings in the trial over the past week.
That was due to the absence of one of the charged men, Boster Samuele, who had to undergo urological surgery on Monday last week.
By Tuesday, Samuele was back in court, but with him visibly being in pain, it was clear that he was in no condition to remain present for a continuation of the trial.
Acting Judge Manyarara also did not think Samuele would be fit to return to the dock within the coming week.
With the trial having been set down on the court roll to run until April 14, and with a court recess and an already full schedule for Acting Judge Manyarara to follow on that, the trial has been forced into a postponement to July 4.
The trial sped through the testimony of four witnesses in the last week when evidence was actually heard.
None of those witnesses faced any questions in cross-examination from the 12 accused men or the two defence lawyers who are supposed to be conducting their defence.
All of the evidence dealt with pointings-out that some of the twelve - John Mazila (Kulu) Tembwe, Frederick Ntambilwa, Alex Mafwila Liswani and Samuele - are claimed to have made to Police officers in the Caprivi Region or at Mariental after their arrest.
When the trial started, the 12 - who are accused of having taken part in a plot to secede the Caprivi Region from Namibia between September 1998 and December 2003 - announced to the court that they considered themselves to be Caprivians and not Namibians, and stated that as they saw it, they were in a foreign country in a foreign court which legally did not have the power to try them.
That stance appears to have demolished the relationship between the 12 and their lawyers, who have since informed the court that they were not receiving any instructions to cross-examine witnesses whose testimony the prosecution was presenting to the court.
Acting Judge Manyarara has however told the lawyers that they should remain present in court, ready to receive instructions if and when these might come their way.
They have been waiting in vain until now.
With the testimony of the last four witnesses, Acting Judge Manyarara has been at pains to explain to each accused person mentioned in a witness's testimony that he had a right to cross-examine the witness either himself or through a lawyer, and what the purpose of such cross-examination would be.
None of them took the opportunity to cross-question a witness.
Having been explained his rights, Ntambilwa told the court: "I don't have a legal representative at this time and in such a case I am not part of this case."
After he had been explained his rights to cross-examination, Liswani also told the Acting Judge that he did not have a legal representative.
He also did not have rights in the court, he added, "because this suicide lawyers or missionary lawyers are for the court".
Acting Judge Manyarara's response was to ask Liswani to desist from insulting the court.
When the same rights were again explained to him after another witness had given his evidence-in-chief, Liswani pushed the issue further, and told Acting Judge Manyarara that he was "a dictator".
Tembwe quickly joined his co-accused in repeating that charge against the court.
When Ntambilwa later also said there was "a kind of dictatorship" in the trial and that he had been left without legal representation, Acting Judge Manyarara pointed out to him that defence counsel Nate Ndauendapo, whom the Legal Aid Directorate instructed to represent Ntambilwa and 10 of the other accused men, remained present in court, ready to receive instructions to cross-examine witnesses.
Acting Judge Manyarara eventually gave each of the 12 accused an opportunity to address the court on the matter of their legal representation.
They do not consider themselves to be legally represented any more, they told the court in addresses that frequently veered off into political statements from the dock.
"I am a Caprivian, I will remain a Caprivian (.
.) Caprivi is a country on its own,", Alex Mushakwa told the court.
Samuele announced: "My Lord, as I am standing here I am standing for Caprivi, not for this trial."
Tembwe repeated the same sentiments: "I want to tell this court that as I am standing here today, I am a son of Caprivi, not a son to Namibia."
When Shine Samulandela started to quote from the Bible, Acting Judge Manyarara cut him short.
"Viva Muyongo," Samulandela responded, in an obvious reference to exiled former DTA President Mishake Muyongo, who is alleged to have led the attempt to secede the Caprivi Region.
Acting Judge Manyarara swiftly referred Samulandela to the Constitution of Namibia, which defines the territory that Namibia consists of as the whole of the territory recognised by international law as being part of Namibia.
This would include the Caprivi Region.
One of "the illustrious signatories" of the Constitution, "is one Mishake Muyongo," the Acting Judge pointed out.
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