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Freed secession accused to sue State
After spending 13 years in jail, losing his job at a local milling company and his general livelihood, former high treason suspect Rodwell Kasika Mukendwa is now planning to sue the State having been cleared of any wrongdoing on Friday.
The 68-year-old who was one of the 113 Caprivi secessionist suspects, was on Friday acquitted of all 278 charges by Judge Elton Hoff at the prison court.
Mukendwa, who spent 13 years in custody, was declared not guilty of all charges ranging from high treason to murder after his defence counsel, Victor Kachaka, successfully defended his application under Section 174 of the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977.
He was arrested in 1999, weeks after the Caprivi Liberation Army (CLA) allegedly launched attacks on the army base and police station at Katima Mulilo in a bid to secede the Caprivi from Namibia.
Mukendwa, who could not hold back his excitement, told Namibia Sun that he is happy to have been freed on all charges, saying he maintained all along that he was being wrongly accused.
Prior to his arrest, Mukendwa was working as a foreman at Namib Mills. He revealed that plans of consulting with family lawyers were underway to sue the State for his wrongful lengthy detainment and for the loss of livelihood he has suffered as a result of being incarcerated.
“Prison life is not good,” he said.
“I was a healthy working man when I was captured and locked up. I am now sickly and too old to look for work.”
Mukwenda said prison has robbed him all economic opportunities he had, partly compounded by the fact that his case has taken unnecessarily too long to complete.
“I had cattle and farms which are now lost as no one took care of them. My children dropped out of school because no one could pay for their school fees.”
“Where do I start now that I am a free man? It is my wish to see the fellow men I was detained with also set free.” Mukendwa said.
Mukwenda was welcomed by his family and relatives, including his son Dusken.
Dusken and Mukwenda’s younger brother Henry Mutafela both flanked him at the prison premises, saying they were happy with the verdict but still bitter as they feel justice was delayed and denied for a long period.
“We knew the State had no case to begin with and the lack there of evidence has seen our father, grandfather, brother and uncle set free,” said the visibly excited son.
“We are now just going to enjoy the moments we have with him before the family take on the State to sue for damages.”
During the violent attacks on August 22, which saw more than fourteen people killed, the CLA rebels occupied the Namibia Broadcasting Cooperation (NBC) radio and television station.
The attack resulted in a state of emergency declared in the region and the arrest of the alleged CLA members and its supporters. The aftermath of the attacks saw many of the alleged participants arrested and charged with high treason, murder and a host of other offenses.
Suspected leader of the uprising, Mishake Muyongo, remains on the run and is currently believed to be in Denmark on an asylum status.
Kachaka, lawyer of the incarcerated suspects, told the Namibian Sun that the remaining 112 detainees will launch their application under the same section on September 3, next month.