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Ex-cop witness cross-examined
November 9, 2006
Ex-cop witness cross-examined


A FORMER Police officer who was on duty at the Katima Mulilo Police Station on the day before it was attacked by alleged secessionists in early August 1999 met a group of armed men making their way to the Police Station minutes before the attack - but failed to raise the alarm or report the encounter for two years.

The former Policeman, Lovemore Litabula, gave this testimony in the main Caprivi high treason trial in the High Court in Windhoek on Tuesday last week.

Litabula, who was the 74th prosecution witness to testify in the trial, was attacked sharply under cross-examination after he had given this evidence before Judge Elton Hoff.

"What kind of Police officer are you?" defence counsel Percy McNally asked him at one point in his cross-examination.

By the end of the cross-examination, he told the witness: "I put it to you that you should be an accused."

After getting only silence from Litabula, McNally added: "Is it not so?" "It is not so," Litabula answered.

Litabula is no longer a member of the Namibian Police.

On August 1 1999, though, he was still a Police Constable, stationed at the Katima Mulilo Police Station, where he did duty as a shift commander until 14h00 that day.

He spent part of that afternoon at a club in the town, where he enjoyed a couple of beers, he told the court.

He said between 21h00 and 22h00, he drove out of Katima Mulilo with Dunbar Mushwena, who stopped the bakkie at the side of a road at a junction outside the town.

Mushwena is one of the high treason suspects whose extradition from Botswana was finally refused by that country's Court of Appeal in July 2004.

Litabula said he spent the next two to three hours sitting in the vehicle, drinking beer, while Mushwena came and went between the vehicle and a nearby village.

He thought that Mushwena perhaps had some personal business - such as consulting a witchdoctor.

He said between midnight and 01h00, Mushwena returned to the vehicle with between 10 and 15 people who got onto the back of the bakkie.

As they drove back towards Katima Mulilo, Aggrey Makendano - one of the 119 accused men- called his name.

The vehicle stopped at a junction in Katima Mulilo, where Mushwena told him to go with the people on the bakkie, Litabula said.

They were between 300 and 500 metres from the Police Station at that point.

He said as they all started walking along a shortcut through a bushy area between the town and the Police Station, he noticed that some men were armed.

After some distance, Makendano told him that they were heading to the Police Station and that he could go back home, so he left them and started walking home.

When he reached a tar road nearby, he heard gunshots from the direction of the Police Station and the town centre, he then turned around and walked to an old army base in the town where other Police officers were staying.

He met two of his colleagues there and spent the next few hours until daybreak with them.

He did not tell them anything about what he had just seen.

The next morning, he and his colleagues went to the Police Station, where blood in the charge office and elsewhere on the scene bore witness of the attack that alleged armed separatists had carried out there.

Litabula kept quiet about the group and the attack until two years later, when investigators questioned him.

Through his silence, McNally charged, Litabula was a co-perpetrator of the crime.

Litabula disagreed: "I feared for my life because things happened which I was not expecting to happen."


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