News and Information
Treason trial witness wraps up testimony
|January 25, 2006
* WERNER MENGES
THE history of former DTA leader Mishake Muyongo's attempt to stoke a secessionist insurrection in the Caprivi Region some seven years ago would have to be rewritten if the 19th prosecution witness in the ongoing Caprivi high treason trial were to have his way.
When the witness, Bernard Baleke Kanzeka, stepped out of the witness box before Judge Elton Hoff in the High Court in Windhoek yesterday, he left behind him eight days of testimony in which he had insisted to the bitter end that Muyongo was still trying to rouse support for a plan to launch a separatist armed struggle in the Caprivi Region in December 1998.
The problem is, however, that by that time Muyongo had been in exile in Botswana for more than a month already.
He and close to 100 followers who were allegedly involved in the plot had left Namibia for Botswana in the dying days of October that year.
Kanzeka did not allow historical facts to put him off from insisting that one of the main themes of his testimony, which is a meeting that he claimed was addressed by Muyongo, took place in December 1998, and not at any other time.
His insistence on that score may yet be seized by the defence lawyers to back eventual arguments that since he had been shown to have made a factual error on such a point, the credibility of the rest of his testimony would likewise have to be questioned and regarded with suspicion.
Kanzeka also stumbled on another of the main themes of his testimony.
Except for the meeting that he said was addressed by Muyongo, he also told the court that he had attended an earlier meeting, which he said was addressed by Geoffrey Mwilima, at the DTA office at Katima Mulilo in November 1998.
There the idea that the Caprivi Region should be "liberated" from Namibia was likewise voiced by Mwilima, he said.
However, as it came to a crucial stage in his testimony, when Kanzeka was asked to point out those people that he had mentioned in his evidence if he could also see them in court, former DTA National Assembly member Mwilima was not one of those that Kanzeka identified to the court.
Without that identification in court, Kanzeka's testimony has been left with a gap in which his claims about a person named Geoffrey Mwilima have not actually been connected to the like-named person who is one of the 120 accused persons in the dock.
Mwilima had been the speaker at the first meeting that he attended, and Mwilima had also attended the second meeting that was addressed by Muyongo, Kanzeka testified.
"In that meeting, Mishake Muyongo said people must come together, or put hands together, so that they can cut Caprivi from the rest of Namibia," he told the court.
Muyongo told the meeting that for this purpose people had to go to Botswana, where they were to be given training on how to fight, and then they had to return to Caprivi to "liberate" the region in order to establish it as a state on its own, separate from Namibia, Kanzeka said.
Initially in his testimony, Kanzeka told the court that Mwilima had told the meeting the Caprivi Region should be "cut" from Namibia, that this would be done through "fighting", and that weapons would be used in this process.
Under cross-examination, though, Kanzeka started altering his evidence on this score.
Mwilima had not used a word like "cut" at that first meeting, and also did not refer to weapons, he changed his testimony while facing cross-questioning from defence lawyer Percy McNally on Friday.
Mwilima had referred to "liberating" the Caprivi Region, he said.
Under cross-examination from defence lawyer Greyson Nyoni, he also conceded that not only he himself, but also some of the other people who were at the two meetings, did not actually agree with the ideas that were propagated there.
In fact, there were distinct indications of disagreement from the audience at that first meeting, he agreed under cross-examination from McNally.
To the end of his testimony he stuck to his claim that the meeting that Muyongo addressed took place in December 1998.
When Nyoni challenged him on that, pointing out to him that the court had already heard that at that time Muyongo was already in Botswana, having left Namibia in October 1998, Kanzeka insisted that his version of the timeline of events was the correct one.
That just showed that all of Kanzeka's testimony on that meeting was "a dangerous fabrication" on Kanzeka's part, Nyoni told him.
Kanzeka did not agree with him, and went on to insist on the correctness of that date until defence counsel Patrick Kauta finalised the defence team's cross-examination on Monday.
By the time that Kauta had his turn to test Kanzeka's evidence, Kauta had downgraded the two claimed meetings to "lectures", akin to something that students might be receiving in school, where they would not have any control or choice over the contents of the lessons.
A "meeting" or a "lecture", whatever they were called, the one addressed by Muyongo took place in December 1998, Kanzeka insisted.
And actually Muyongo did not mention military training that was to be sought and received in Botswana at that one, he added in yet another change to his initial, already watered-down testimony.
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