News and Information

Illness of treason trial witness stalls case
September 24, 2004


SICKNESS intervened yesterday to bring the testimony of the second prosecution witness in the Caprivi high treason trial to a sudden halt.

State witness Oscar Mwisepi was not feeling well, Judge Elton Hoff was told by Deputy Prosecutor General Herman January as the High Court at Grootfontein reconvened to continue hearing his testimony yesterday morning.

January told the Judge that he did not want Mwisepi to collapse in the witness box, and asked the Judge to adjourn the case until Tuesday.

Mwisepi was suffering from a terminal illness, was receiving medical treatment, and in any event had an appointment to see a doctor in Windhoek in the meantime, he added.

Mwisepi is now set to return to the witness stand to face further cross-examination on Tuesday.

Defence counsel Hennie Krueger is in the process of testing the evidence given by Mwisepi.

Krueger has already established that initially Mwisepi was also regarded as a suspect in the high treason case, and that he was interrogated in that capacity before being made a State witness in the case.

All the same, he had given the statements he made to the Police - four in all between 2000 and 2003 - voluntarily, Mwisepi insisted.

Krueger also established in his cross-questioning that the statements that Mwisepi had given - or some of them at least - were the result of an interrogation process, where questions were put to Mwisepi and the answers thereto were reworked into a statement form.

As part of the process Police officers who questioned him at times mentioned various names to him, and he would then tell the officers what he knew about their involvement in a plan to secede the Caprivi Region, Mwisepi explained.

He denied that his statements had been "manufactured" by the Police, and that he was then merely asked to sign them.

The previous defence counsel who cross-examined Mwisepi, Jonathan Samukange, also used the witness's statements to the Police when he questioned him on Tuesday and Wednesday.

In the process, Samukange pointed out to Mwisepi that one of those statements contained a material contradiction compared to Mwisepi's evidence in court.

Mwisepi had testified that when he and other people were sent to meet John Samboma, the alleged commander of the separatist movement's armed wing, the Caprivi liberation army, and companions of Samboma near the village of Masida after the August 2 1999 attacks at Katima Mulilo, he found Samboma and the other four members of his group armed.

Yet in his first statement to the Police, dated March 23 2000, it was stated that when the Samboma group was visited on October 22 1999, four of them were unarmed.

Mwisepi replied that he was surprised to see that in his statement, since that was not what he had told the Police.

He added that it had been an oversight that he had nevertheless signed a statement saying just that.

By the time he had signed that statement, Mwisepi must by his own admission still have been sympathetic to the idea of seceding the Caprivi Region.

He told the court that he only abandoned the secessionist idea in 2001.

Samukange told Mwisepi that his first statement to the Police, where it was stated that he had found four of the Samboma group unarmed, had in fact been correct, but that he was now trying to falsely implicate the group.

"That is not so," Mwisepi replied.


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