News and Information

Lawyers set to start testing treason witness's evidence
November 7, 2005

THE tenth witness for the prosecution in the main Caprivi high treason trial is set to have his mettle in the witness box tried and tested from today.

Deputy Prosecutor General Taswald July on Friday completed leading the witness's evidence in chief before Judge Elton Hoff in the High Court building on the grounds of the Windhoek Central Prison, where the treason trial resumed last week after a seven-month delay.

From today, the nine defence lawyers will take their turns testing the witness's evidence under cross-examination.

The witness, who may not be named by the media in terms of an order from Judge Hoff, because of fears that his own and his family's safety might be compromised, has now been at the witness stand for nine days in all.

On one of those days, though, he did not actually testify, because the trial was postponed following a ruling from Judge Hoff on hearsay evidence.

But when he gets back into the witness box for a tenth day today, he will become the prosecution witness who has spent the longest time giving evidence in the trial so far - with only the second witness, who testified over nine days back in September and October last year, surpassing the length of time he has been at the stand.

The witness's evidence in chief concluded on Friday with the event that precipitated the first arrests in the high treason case: the armed attacks that alleged members of a secessionist movement in the Caprivi Region launched on targets at Katima Mulilo on August 2 1999.

Before he got to that date, the bulk of the testimony that he has been giving in the High Court at Grootfontein in March, and in Windhoek from Tuesday last week, dealt with the mobilising of support for a separatist movement and the preparations for the taking up of arms to secede the Caprivi Region that he said had been taking place since as far back as 1989.

By the time that August 2 1999 came around, the witness was no longer a member of the inner sanctum of the separatist movement, the court heard.

Having left Namibia to seek refuge in Botswana, where he said he and fellow supporters of the movement had been told they would be given military training, in November 1998, he returned to Namibia after he was accused of being a spy, he told the court.

The witness first said he returned to Namibia after he had spent some six months in Botswana.

On Friday, however, he said he returned to Namibia in 1998 again - whereas he had earlier testified that he first left Namibia to go to Botswana in November 1998.

On his way back to Namibia, he and four fellow returnees made a stop at an office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Gaborone, he told the court.

There, they encountered another group of exiles from Namibia.

This group included Mishake Muyongo, the alleged leader of the separatist movement who is now living in exile in Denmark, and Thaddeus Ndala, who is alleged to have been one of the leading figures in the movement, and who is one of the 120 men on trial before Judge Hoff.

Ndala approached him at the UNHCR office and told him and the four other returnees, after asking them why they were running away, that they would still be dealt with, the witness said.

When he replied to Ndala that no one would be able to stop him, said the witness, one of the other returnees stopped him and warned him that he should keep quiet, because Ndala and his colleagues would be able to kill them, since Muyongo has "the charms".

He was referring to powers of witchcraft, the witness explained.

Once he had returned to the Caprivi Region, he encountered more threats based on allusions to witchcraft, his testimony shows.

On one occasion he met Geoffrey Mwilima, the former member of the National Assembly who is also among the 120 men on trial, at a bank at Katima Mulilo, he said.

Mwilima told him that he knew his mission in going to Botswana had been to prevent the separatists' own mission from proceeding smoothly - so Mwilima would try to harness witchcraft to make him go mad, he told the court.

He said on another occasion he met another of the 120, former Policeman Mathews Pangula, in the street at Katima Mulilo.

By that time, he had already heard rumours at places where he used to go to drink beer, that attacks at Katima Mulilo were imminent, he said.

He told the court that during their encounter, Pangula told him: "You, you'll be the first target."

When the attacks started during the early morning hours of August 2 1999, the sound of gunfire woke him from his sleep, he said.

Later that morning, he was in the area of the town centre, when he saw one of the attackers, who was still armed with a gun, he said.

Five of the eight people who were killed at Katima Mulilo during the attack were shot dead in the town centre.

The witness was not able to recall the name of the person that he claimed to have seen, but on Friday pointed him out in court.

He pointed out Joseph Kamwi, who is Accused 3 in the trial.

Kamwi appeared to be none too impressed with the witness's claims against him.

The witness had already pointed him out in court earlier this year, so how was it possible that he had in the meantime forgotten his name, Kamwi remarked to the Judge when he was asked to state his name for the record.

"He must know somebody.

He must not just point, point, point," Kamwi said.

"We are not joking here."


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