Ombudsman testifies in treason lawsuit
Windhoek – Namibia’s Ombudsman Advocate John Walters on Tuesday took the stand in the civil suit against the government by one of the exonerated treason accused.
Walters was testifying on his involvement in the trial during his stint as acting prosecutor general during 2000 and 2001.
Walters was adamant that in hindsight the manner in which the whole trial was conducted was not ideal, adding that many mistakes were made.
But, he said, he is satisfied that the indictments issued against all the treason accused were done within the law and within the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Act.
He said that at the time he was satisfied that prima facie evidence that was to be tested in court was established against all of the accused. On the question whether the prosecution against some of the accused that were discharged on a Section 174 application should have been stopped when the cases against them were closed, Walters was of the opinion that it would have been near impossible to do so in such a complex trial as the treason trial.
According to him, it could have been reasonably expected by the prosecution team that more evidence against the accused could have come out in the subsequent witness testimonies.
He did say the fair trial rights of the accused were infringed upon, but attributed it to the magnitude of the trial.
Walters was the last witness to testify for the plaintiff in the trial in which Richwell Kulisesa Mahupelo is suing government for N$15.321 million. He claims he was a successful farmer before his arrest and claims N$780 000 in lost earnings for the time he was in detention and N$14.148 million in general damages.
The first witness for the defence was Chief Inspector Evans Simasiku who said he was the one who arrested Mahupelo on April 29, 2000 and not on March 16 as Mahupelo claims.
According to Simasiku, he received information that one of the CLA commanders, Bennet Matuso, was a regular visitor at the homestead of Mahupelo. He further said that he received information on March 16, 2000 that Mahupelo was at Katima Mulilo to buy food and later got into a car driven by Aggrey Mwambwa. After they got into the car they drove to the Sikubi area where they were joined by Matuso and drove in the direction of Liansulu.
An emergency roadblock was manned at Lizauli area where Mahupelo, Matuso and Mwambwa were arrested after the vehicle they were driving in was searched by the police who found an AK-47 assault rifle.
According to Simasiku, he obtained various statements that implicated Mahupelo as either a supporter or contributor to the cause of the CLA which was to separate the then Caprivi (now Zambezi) region from Namibia.
Mahupelo, who was released in February, 2011 after a successful Section 174 application, claims he was unlawfully arrested and detained and maliciously prosecuted even after the state realised they had no evidence to convict.
According to him, the state should have released him already in 2007 when the evidence against him could not sustain a conviction, but they intentionally kept him in prison with the hope that further evidence against him will come up. He further claims that his trial was unconstitutionally long. He is represented by Advocate Andrew Corbett SC, assisted by Uanisa Hengari.
The state represented by Advocate Ishmael Semenya SC, assisted by Nixon Marcus, is denying the allegations.