News and Information

Arrested Caprivi indunas to be kept in Police custody
August 4, 2004
Arrested Caprivi indunas to be kept in Police custody


TWO traditional leaders from the Caprivi Region who face criminal charges after they allegedly denied sworn witness statements that they made to a Police officer investigating the Caprivi treason case, heard yesterday that they face the prospect of more than another week in Police custody before their case returns to court.

Headmen Harrison Muleta Kwala (68) and Gabriel Matengu Sakutiya (64) made a first court appearance in Windhoek yesterday on a charge of attempting to defeat or obstruct the course of justice.

During their appearance before Magistrate Johanna Salionga, they were informed of their rights to legal representation before the case was postponed to Friday next week for a trial date to be fixed.

At the request of Public Prosecutor Carlo McLeod, the Magistrate directed that both headmen were to remain in Police custody in the meantime.

Kwala and Sakutiya are both traditional leaders in their home villages in the Imukusi area near Katima Mulilo - and not in the Masida area, as The Namibian reported yesterday.

Kwala was arrested on Friday last week, and appeared in court at Katima Mulilo on the same day, while Sakutiya appeared in court for the first time on Monday, after he had been arrested over the weekend.

Sakutiya faces a charge of attempting to defeat or obstruct the course of justice, alternatively perjury, alternatively making conflicting statements under oath, while Kwala faces only the first charge, without the two alternative counts.

The charges against them stem from the role that they allegedly were supposed to play as State witnesses in the main Caprivi high treason trial under way before Judge Elton Hoff in the High Court in Windhoek.

According to an indictment drawn up by the Office of the Prosecutor General, Sakutiya and Kwala gave sworn witness statements to a Police officer investigating the high treason case in mid-September 2003.

In March this year, Kwala was allegedly interviewed before he was to give evidence in the trial.

On March 29 this year, Sakutiya became the 42nd State witness to testify in the trial.

Both indunas allegedly deviated from what they are claimed to have told the Police in their sworn witness statements.

Each of them allegedly also stated that they had not provided the original witness statement freely and voluntarily, did not know anything about the contents and were forced by members of the Namibian Police to make the allegations and to sign the statement.

The arrest of Sakutiya and Kwala represents the first time that the State has taken such a tough line against its own witnesses in the main Caprivi high treason trial.

During the trial, the prosecution has on occasion been confronted with situations where its witnesses have either made courtroom U-turns to deny that the contents of sworn witness statements that the Police had taken from them were the truth and to claim that they were being forced to testify in the trial, or have made such U-turns already in consultations with the prosecution team in the trial before they were supposed to testify in court.


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