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Caprivi indunas want bail
August 16, 2006
Caprivi indunas want bail


TWO elderly former State witnesses in the main Caprivi high treason trial who have been in Police custody for two weeks on a charge of attempting to defeat or obstruct the course of justice both told a Windhoek Regional Court Magistrate yesterday that Police officers had forced them to sign false statements.

The statements set out the testimony that they were supposed to deliver in the treason trial.

This claim was made by Gabriel Sakutiya (64) and Harrison Kwala (68) as they gave evidence during a bail application that their lawyer, André Louw, launched in the Windhoek Regional Court.

The bail hearing is set to continue today.

Both men will have been in Police custody for three weeks by the end of this week.

They were arrested at the end of July on a charge of attempting to defeat or obstruct the course of justice.

Sakutiya also faces additional alternative charges of perjury or making conflicting statements under oath.

The arrest of the two men - both regarded as traditional community leaders in their home villages in the Imukusi area near Katima Mulilo - flowed from refusals on their part to give testimony in the high treason trial along the lines of sworn witness statements that the Police took from them in mid-September 2003.

Sakutiya repudiated his witness statement in open court before Judge Elton Hoff on March 29, after the prosecution had called him to give evidence as the State's 42nd witness in the still continuing trial.

Kwala did not even make it as far as the witness box.

In March, during consultations with the prosecution team, he already denied that he was the source of the contents of his witness statement, and claimed that he had been forced by members of the Police to make the statement and to sign it.

"There is no way I could testify on something which I don't know," Kwala told Magistrate Retief yesterday.

He claimed that not only the Police officers who wrote his supposed witness statement, but also the prosecutors who consulted with him in Windhoek earlier this year, threatened him in a bid to persuade him to testify in line with what was written in the witness statement.

Sakutiya made a similar claim.

He told the court that Police officers had forced him to sign the witness statement by threatening him that he would be arrested if he did not do as he was told In the High Court, however, he told the court that he was not the person who had actually made that statement, Sakutiya added.

"What is contained in the statement, I don't know that," he told the Magistrate.

Both Sakutiya and Kwala described the conditions in which they are being kept at the Katutura Police Station holding cells as "terrible".

They both make a living from farming, with monthly State pensions of N$300 a month a further income for them, do not have passports and have never been out of Namibia, they told the court.

The State, represented by Belinda Wantenaar, is opposing the bail application.

Wantenaar said it would not be in the interest of justice to release the duo at this stage.

It was also feared that the two men might abscond or might interfere with State witnesses.


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