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12 Caprivi treason suspects jailed for contempt of court
July 26, 2006
12 Caprivi treason suspects jailed for contempt of court

THE 12 men accused in the second Caprivi treason trial were found guilty of contempt of court and sentenced to 30 days in jail yesterday.

Acting High Court Judge John Manyarara found them guilty of contempt of court for interrupting proceedings by singing and shouting slogans while the court was in session.

Their 30-day incarceration as convicted criminals means that they will lose a number of privileges that they enjoyed as trial-awaiting prisoners.

The drama that led to this punishment unfolded yesterday morning before State witness Police Sergeant Celestino George was about to resume his testimony on the photographs he took at a number of alleged crime scenes in the Caprivi Region.

Before George could take the stand, the 12 accused men stood up and started singing and shouting: Viva Caprivi.

Viva Muyongo.

Viva Mamili.

They continued in this way for about three minutes, after which Deputy Prosecutor General Danie Small asked the Judge to charge them with contempt of court.

After being sentenced on the contempt charge, the 12 stood up again and started singing a liberation struggle song in their local language.

This move prompted Acting Judge Manyarara to order the Police to remove all the suspects from the courtroom.

The proceedings continued in their absence.

In the past few months, the proceedings of this trial has seen a number of State witnesses finishing their testimonies unchallenged following the withdrawal of two Legal Aid-sponsored lawyers Zagrys Grobler and Nate Ndauendapo from the case.

The group refused to plead to the charges at the beginning of the trial.

However, the State proceeded to put the charges to them in their absence according to the provisions of the Namibian Criminal Procedure Act, which stipulates that if an accused person refuses to plead, charges can be put to them in their absence.

Pleas of not guilty were then entered by the court in respect of all the 12 accused separatists.

The 12 accused are: Progress Munuma (40), Manepelo Makendano (41), Shine Samulandela (36), Vincent Siluye (36), Vincent Sinasi (44), Alex Mushakwa (52), Diamond Salufu (53), Hoster Ntombo (41), Boster Samuele (38), John Ntembwe (39), Frederick Ntambilwa and Alex Liswani (46).

The group is charged for allegedly having taken part in the August 1999 plot to secede the Caprivi Region from the rest of Namibia.

They face charges ranging from high treason to sedition, public violence, illegal supply of weapons as well as the illegal possession of weapons and ammunition.

All the suspects were arrested during 2002 after the Botswana authorities handed them over to their Namibian counterparts.

Some were arrested in December 2003, after the Botswana authorities returned them to Namibia, having revoked the asylum status that it had previously given them.

The reason given for the cancellation of their asylum was that they had broken the conditions of their stay in Botswana by having returned to Namibia illegally while they were supposed to be refugees in that country.

The accused had allegedly been active in the Caprivi Region for years after the separatists attacked Government installations and other targets at Katima Mulilo on August 2 1999.

The 12 men remain in custody at the Windhoek Central Prison.

They are now legally unrepresented after the Justice Ministry's Directorate of Legal Aid turned down their applications when they demanded that they would only accept lawyers willing to re-launch applications that Namibia has no jurisdiction to try them on the matter.

Similar applications were in the past dismissed by the High Court.

The trial will continue today in their absence.

- Nampa


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