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Two indunas granted bail
August 17, 2006
Two indunas granted bail


THE two elderly Caprivi Region residents who almost three weeks ago became the first - and so far only - people to be arrested in connection with testimony that they were expected to give in the main Caprivi high treason trial were granted bail of N$1 000 each in the Windhoek Regional Court yesterday.

While granting bail to Gabriel Matengu Sakutiya (64) and Harrison Muleta Kwala (68), Magistrate Gert Retief commented that in his view the issues at the heart of the charges the two men face could have been better dealt with by the trial court where the charges originated, being the High Court, where the treason trial is taking place.

The charges are founded on allegations that they voluntarily provided the Police in September 2003 with witness statements setting out what they knew about the alleged crimes that are the subject of the main treason trial in progress before Judge Elton Hoff.

By March this year, it is further alleged, the two men however turned against their witness statements.

They allegedly refused to give evidence in accordance with these statements, claimed that they did not in the first place provide the statements freely and voluntarily, but that members of the Police had forced them to make the allegations, and claimed that they knew nothing about the contents of the statements.

Sakutiya and Kwala live in the Imukusi area close to Katima Mulilo.

They have spent close to three weeks in Police custody - they were arrested on July 30.

Considering the charge against the two men, and his opinion that if they are convicted they would likely not be sentenced to a severe sentence, he did not see why someone in Kwala's and Sakutiya's position would opt to in effect banish themselves from their home region for life by choosing to leave Namibia in order to abscond after they have been released on bail, Magistrate Retief commented in his ruling.

"I see no sense in such a move," he said.

He also remarked that the situation around Sakutiya and Kwala and the testimony they were expected to give could in his opinion have been far better dealt with by the trial court sitting on the high treason case.

The Criminal Procedure Act has a section giving the court the power to imprison a recalcitrant witness for up to five years, or until the witness agrees to co-operate and give evidence in the trial, and that is a very effective way of dealing with uncooperative witnesses, the Magistrate said.

The last witness to testify before the Magistrate gave his ruling, was Detective Sergeant Eimo Popyeinawa, a member of the Police unit investigating the high treason case.

He told the court that one of his concerns about the two men being released on bail was that they might influence other prospective State witnesses in the treason trial and persuade them, too, to refuse to give evidence in the trial.

There are still about 800 more people who could be witnesses in the trial - but the Police have been keeping their identities under wraps, Popyeinawa told the court.

This prompted defence lawyer André Louw, who represented Sakutiya and Kwala, to ask: "How do you tamper with witnesses when you do not even know who the 800 witnesses are?" According to Popyeinawa, however, meetings have been held in the Caprivi Region to encourage people not to testify in the treason trial.

He claimed he had information that Kwala had attended such a meeting, which was held under the banner of the United Democratic Party on June 4 - something that Kwala denied when he testified on Tuesday.

Magistrate Retief still acknowledged such a possibility in the condition that he attached to the bail.

They can be released from custody on bail of N$1 000 on condition that they do not involve themselves in any actions aimed at influencing people not to testify in the two high treason trials now in progress in the High Court, he ordered.

Public Prosecutor Belinda Wantenaar represented the State.


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