Groupies form human shield around 'prophet' Babi
04 June 2020 | Justice
Followers of self-proclaimed prophet Jackson Babi yesterday formed a human shield around him during his latest appearance in the Windhoek Magistrate's Court.
Babi (30) left the court surrounded by his supporters, who pushed reporters away and grabbed cameras to prevent photos being taken of him.
Although the matter was set down for a bail application yesterday, the defence decided to apply for bail at a later stage.
Babi was arrested last Wednesday after two rhino horns were allegedly found in his house in Kleine Kuppe.
He has been charged with possession of, or dealing in, rhino horns, hunting specially protected game and possessing a hunting rifle and ammunition without a licence.
On the charge of hunting specially protected game, State prosecutor Rowan van Wyk informed the court that a warrant of arrest had been issued by the Gobabis Magistrate's Court and that Babi should be transferred in custody to appear before that court on 8 June.
Kadhila Amoomo, who represents Babi, opposed this application, arguing that Babi's arrest was unlawful. He said it was strange that Babi was arrested a second time while he was already in custody on the other charge.
Van Wyk explained that the arrest warrant issued by the District of Gobabis was for the charge of hunting specially protected game, while the Windhoek Magistrate's Court is dealing with the other charges against Babi, which co-accused Frizans Dumeni (25) also faces.
Magistrate Linus Samunzala ordered Babi to be transferred to Gobabis for the 8 June court date.
Babi and Dumeni will again appear before the Windhoek Magistrate's Court on 24 July to face the other charges.
Van Wyk said the State was waiting for the results of ballistic tests on the rifle, DNA tests on the rhino horns, and four additional witness statements.
Amoomo made it clear that he was not abandoning the bail application, but postponing it to assess the charges against Babi at Gobabis and give time for the State to complete investigations.
Kalundu Kamwi, who represents Dumeni, also agreed to postpone the bail application.
Babi and Dumeni are among eight suspects arrested in the case.
Two of the eight are allegedly a VIP police officer and a former member of the Namibian Defence Force.
The case stems from two rhino carcasses that were found on a farm in the Gobabis area last Tuesday. It is suspected that the rhinos were shot with a hunting rifle and all four horns were illegally removed from the carcasses. Four suspects were arrested at Otjiwarongo after allegedly trying to sell two rhino horns to an undercover police officer. These four accused, who may not be named yet, appeared behind closed doors in the regional court at the town last Thursday.
Environment ministry spokesman Romeo Muyunda said the case was still at an early stage and further arrests could follow.
Two other suspects, Alberto Mbwale and Joseph Matheus, appeared before the Gobabis Magistrate's Court on Monday on charges of hunting specially protected game and money laundering. Their case was postponed to 15 September and they were remanded in custody.
In a new twist, the carcass of a six-year-old rhino calf was discovered on the same farm on Saturday. The calf's mother, which was wounded about two months ago when the poachers struck at the farm, died on Tuesday.
The Blue Rhino task team leader, Barry de Klerk, said it is believed to be the work of the same syndicate, as the calibre of ammunition is the same as that used in the previous poaching incident.