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Beauty's memory amazes treason trial lawyers
July 11, 2006
Beauty's memory amazes treason trial lawyers


ONE of the most recent witnesses to testify in the main Caprivi high treason trial astounded defence lawyers last week when she claimed she was able to recall an exact date in mid-1999 when she saw two of the 119 accused people in the Caprivi Region - whereas she is unable to remember her own birth date, her wedding date or the year her school career ended.

Beauty Munyandi, who testified before Judge Elton Hoff in the High Court in Windhoek last Tuesday and Wednesday, is the 54th witness called by the prosecution.

The trial continued yesterday with evidence from two Police officers involved in taking photographs of the accused people that were later collected in photo albums.

Proceedings had to be adjourned last week following Munyandi's testimony because the prosecution had again failed to provide the defence team representing all but 31 of the accused with a statement setting out the expected testimony of its next witnesses to enable the defence lawyers to prepare for the next testimony.

Munyandi told the court about events dating back to 1998 and 1999.

In 1998, she related, she attended a meeting in Zambia that was addressed by Conrad Walubita, a former DTA Regional Councillor in the Caprivi Region who left Namibia in late 1998, when an alleged plot to launch an armed campaign to secede the Caprivi Region was first uncovered.

That meeting was called by local traditional leaders, Munyandi said.

Walubita used the event to tell his audience that the Caprivi Region and Zambia should be joined together as one country, she told the court.

In 1999, she continued, she was in the Kongola area when she saw two of the accused in the trial, John Samboma and Britan Simisho, together with 12 other men, passing through the area on foot.

Munyandi pointed out Samboma and Simisho in court.

Samboma was carrying two AK47 rifles with him, while the others were carrying food when she saw them, she claimed.

Munyandi claimed that rumours about the existence of a "rebel camp" in the area had been making the rounds in that area at about that time.

It was also around that time that she found one of the previous witnesses in the trial, Ackson Masule, in the same area.

He was carrying maize meal and sweet potatoes, and she made a deduction that he was taking food to the rumoured "rebel camp", she said.

Masule, who is a witchdoctor, testified in February last year.

He told the court that he "treated" a group of about 100 men on an island named Nabumbwe in the Kwando River during 1999, after Samboma had asked for his services.

His treatment was supposed to make the people invisible.

According to Munyandi, she again saw Samboma, this time with another, larger group of men, in the Singalamwe area north of Kongola on July 30 1999.

They appeared to be crossing into Namibia from Zambia, she stated.

Two days later, on August 2 1999, the Caprivi Liberation Army, of which Samboma is alleged to have been a commander, is alleged to have carried out surprise attacks at Katima Mulilo.

Munyandi told the court that she could remember the date of July 30 1999 because to her it had been both a frightening and a major event that she had witnessed when she saw the group of armed men crossing the Kwando River.

She however does not know in which year her school education - in which she went as far as Grade 7 - had ended, she said when defence lawyer Jonathan Samukange started testing her ability to recollect other dates.

Samukange was incredulous, and exclaimed that she could not be serious.

He continued to ask her about other significant dates in her past - such as when she got married - but she confessed that she also did not know when this was.

"Mr Samukange, I agree, she can't be serious," Judge Hoff remarked when he heard this.

When fellow defence counsel Jorge Neves also cross-examined her, it emerged that she also does not know when she was born - although she said she knew this was in 1974 - or on what date Namibia became independent.

"I don't know because I'm dull," she answered at one stage.

As peculiar as the workings of her memory might have been to the defence, it still appeared that at least someone in the dock was taking her testimony very seriously.

What could be a vague threat had been directed to her just after the mid-morning adjournment, the court heard when its session resumed.

"You'll see at the village," someone had said to her from the dock, she told the Judge.


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