News and Information

Defence lawyers move to turn tables on treason trial witness
September 24, 2004


A SPY, an informer, a double agent and an accomplice were some of the labels thrown at the second State witness in the Caprivi high treason trial as his cross-examination by defence lawyers started this week.

The defence's assault on the testimony prosecution witness Oscar Mwisepi has been giving before Judge Elton Hoff in the High Court at Grootfontein on Thursday last week and again from Monday, was kicked off by defence counsel Jonathan Samukange on Tuesday afternoon.

It did not take long for Samukange to zero in on a possible source of discomfort to Mwisepi: the role that he had, by his own admission, played in a movement to secede the Caprivi Region from the rest of Namibia.

As a supporter of the idea of secession, he had left Namibia to seek refuge in Botswana in January 1999, living in the Dukwe refugee camp in that country until he volunteered to be repatriated back to Namibia in May 1999, Mwisepi told the court.

He said the purpose of going to Botswana had been to get military training to prepare for the secession of the Caprivi Region - which was however an ideal which he abandoned after his return to Namibia.

It was only on Wednesday, on the second day that he faced cross-questioning from Samukange, that Mwisepi expanded on that aspect of his testimony.

He told the court that he abandoned the idea of separating the Caprivi Region from the rest of Namibia in 2001 only.

That was because he had realised that he would achieve or benefit nothing from such plans, he claimed.

Samukange had another reading of the situation to put to Mwisepi earlier, though.

He told the witness that it was clear that he was either part of the attacks that separatists are accused of having carried out at Katima Mulilo on August 2 1999 - Mwisepi has denied involvement in the actual attacks - or he had been excluded from the attacks because the other people involved had suspected him of being a spy.

Samukange also had another, more direct accusation to test on Mwisepi:that he was actually the person who had shot someone in the Katima Mulilo town centre on the morning of August 2 1999.

Mwisepi has described to the court that he saw a person being shot and fall to the ground in the town centre that morning, as he was passing through it.

Mwisepi, appearing to be irritated by Samukange's line of questioning at that stage, offering this reply:"If you were together with me."

He had offered a similarly challenging answer earlier, when Samukange put it to him that the reason why he was not also arrested for his role in the secessionist movement was because he had been working for the Police all along.

"If I was working for them and you were present I would say yes," Mwisepi responded.

Mwisepi was "an accomplice witness" and had always been a double agent, an informer, Samukange also stated, in a question that he abandoned when Deputy Prosecutor General Herman January objected that there was no basis for such a statement.

Samukange further asked Mwisepi what he had done after he had been told - on August 1 1999, Mwisepi claimed - that attacks would take place at Katima Mulilo.

"I did nothing," he answered.

"I informed no-one."


An alleged statement that a witness in the Caprivi high treason trial made in the High Court at Grootfontein this week was attributed to the wrong person in Wednesday's edition of The Namibian.

State witness Oscar Mwisepi told the court that he had been told by his cousin and brother-in-law Gabriel Mwilima, one of the 120 people on trial, as well as by one Devil Moa Kabo, that attacks were to take place before the attacks of August 2 1999 had actually been carried out at Katima Mulilo.

Mwisepi also testified he had heard Kabo - and not Mwilima, as was reported - state in this regard: "Today is today, and it will be the day of days."

The error is regretted.


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