News and Information

Treason trial witness names names, tells of 'day of days'
September 22, 2004


A STREAM of names of people claimed to have been involved in a movement that aimed to secede the Caprivi Region from Namibia five years ago has been flowing from the mouth of the second prosecution witness in the Caprivi high treason trial.

Not only acquaintances, neighbours and friends, but also relatives of State witness Oscar Munisitwela Mwisepi, are among the 46 accused people that Mwisepi identified as being known to him on Monday and yesterday.

For some of the 46, Mwisepi's claims that he knew them mean little - for now, at least - since he has not told Judge Elton Hoff anything that would link them to the movement aiming to secede the Caprivi Region.

Others, though, may have been incriminated by this first protected State witness to testify in the Caprivi high treason trial.

They have been portrayed either as supporters of the idea of secession, or as having played a part in or having had prior knowledge of the armed attacks that alleged separatists carried out at Katima Mulilo on August 2 1999.

The names mentioned by Mwisepi were also given faces this week, after Mwisepi was put through a somewhat unorthodox procedure on Monday and yesterday.

He was allowed to leave the witness box and to approach the dock to get a better view of the 118 accused present and point out people that he knew.

He gave most of his testimony on Monday afternoon while either standing in the space between the prosecution and defence benches in court, or seated on a stool there.

In the process, some of the more prominent names among the treason accused made their first appearance in evidence in the main part of the treason trial being heard by Judge Hoff.

These include former DTA National Assembly member Geoffrey Mwilima, John Samboma, who is claimed to have been the commander of the separatist movement's armed wing, the Caprivi liberation army, Bennet Mutuso, who is alleged to have played a leading role in the separatist movement, and Gabriel Mwilima, who is a son-in-law of the secessionists' reported leader, Mishake Muyongo.

Mwisepi has already described Muyongo as an uncle of his.

Mwisepi told the court that Gabriel Mwilima was his cousin and also his brother-in law.

He attended meetings at Mwilima's house at Katima Mulilo.

At one of these meetings, where Mwilima was also present, the discussions were about "renegades" who were then in the bush and were preparing to fight, Mwisepi related.

He added that before the August 2 1999 attacks, Mwilima told him that attacks were going to take place.

That was on August 1 1999, and Mwilima's words were:"Today is today, and it will be the day of days," Mwisepi claimed.

He was also told about the coming attacks by one Devil Moa Kabo - who has since died in Botswana, where he was one of a group of 15 high treason suspects whose extradition Namibia had requested without success.

Mwisepi described former Parliamentarian Geoffrey Mwilima as a relative of his and as "my parent", repeating a term he had used when referring to Muyongo earlier in his testimony.

Mwilima was someone who "entirely committed" himself to the secessionist idea, by influencing people to go from the Caprivi Region to Botswana, where preparations for the secession were supposed to be made, and giving out information about seceding the region, Mwisepi testified.

He told the court that he could still recall a memorable statement that Mwilima allegedly made at a meeting at Katima Mulilo.

It was at the time that Muyongo faced expulsion from the DTA, of which he was the leader at that stage, following the first reports that he was involved in a plan to secede the Caprivi Region.

"Caprivi is Muyongo.

Muyongo is Caprivi.

There is nothing which can separate these two," was what Mwilima had said, Mwisepi claimed.

Last week on Thursday, in his first day at the witness stand, Mwisepi had told the court that he was in his bed at his home at Katima Mulilo when the August 2 1999 attacks took place.

He returned to those days again this week, telling the court that after the attacks, a group of people, of which he was one, was given the task or reorganising the "rebels".

One of the 120 accused arraigned before Judge Hoff, Richwell Manyemo, was also in that group, according to Mwisepi.

He testified that Manyemo instructed them to go to Masida - a village some 80 kilometres southwest of Katima Mulilo - where they were supposed to meet with John Samboma and a group of people with him.

It was a night-time visit, and they met with Samboma and three co-accused before court, Bennet Mutuso, Richard John Samati and Oscar Muyuka Puteho, as well as one Richard Misuha, who has not been pointed out in court because that night was the first time that they had met, Mwisepi said.

Samboma's group had five firearms with them - Mwisepi described these as weapons meant for war, and not for domestic use.

He said he and his companions delivered food to the group.

Samboma told him that the group wanted all "rebels" to meet at a camp in Zambia.

The court has not been told how far that plan ever progressed.

However, it heard during an initial stage of the trial that focused on a challenge to the court's jurisdiction, that Samboma, Puteho, Samati and Misuha were arrested in Zambia on November 2 1999, before they were handed over to the Namibian authorities four days later.

Mwisepi is scheduled to continue testifying today.


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