NDF soldier 'protected'

A soldier accused of shooting a civilian during an anti-crime operation last week has made his first court appearance, but the media could not get access to the crowded courtroom.

10 September 2019 | Justice

ELLANIE SMIT



The media were prevented from covering yesterday’s court appearance of a Namibian Defence Force (NDF) soldier accused of shooting a civilian in Katutura last week.

Family members of Benisius Kalola (32), who was killed last Thursday at the Single Quarters in Katutura, expressed their dismay, saying the soldier was being “protected”.

Kalola was allegedly shot by members of Operation Kalahari Desert while they were searching for narcotics.

Early reports of the incident indicated that Kalola was shot when he attempted to flee. Kalola later died in the Katutura state hospital.

When NDF member Darrel Mulele Nyambe appeared in a packed courtroom at the Katutura Magistrate’s Court yesterday, members of the media were unable to enter the full courtroom to cover the case.

The reason for this was that nobody was allowed to stand in the courtroom.

As court proceedings started with another matter, journalists were still able to stand outside and follow what was happening in the court.

However, as soon as Nyambe was called to take the stand, the doors of the courtroom were shut, blocking the media from taking any photos or video footage of Nyambe.

When reporters tried to take photos of Nyambe at the checking-in area for offenders at the court, they were thrown out. They were told that they may not take any photos in this area, even though this had previously been allowed in several high-profile cases.

Nyambe was denied bail yesterday and was remanded in custody. His case was postponed until 29 January next year.

Prosecutor Victoria Likius objected to bail, saying it would not be in the interest of justice to grant bail as this was a serious matter and investigations were still at an early stage.

Magistrate Atutala Namwenyo Shikalepo informed Nyambe that he could make a formal bail application.

“Should you decide to apply, keep in mind that whatever you will say at bail proceedings will be recorded and may be used against you during trail,” the magistrate warned.

An aunt of Kalola’s, Lena Nekundi, said the family was not happy with the protection afforded Nyambe.

Nekundi said the family was thinking about suing the NDF.

She said a memorial service for Kalola would be held in Windhoek today and another service in the north tomorrow.

According to her several political parties have visited the family to offer their condolences to the family, but neither the police nor the NDF has done so.

She further referred to the criminal cases the police have confirmed Kalolo had been involved in.

“We do not know anything about this and only came to hear about it in the newspapers,” she said.

A cousin of Kalolo’s, who preferred to remain anonymous, said the police were trying to cover up what happened.

“We are grieving for our brother that was killed in cold blood, now they are saying that he was a fugitive. Why did they then never come looking for him? Was he ever convicted?”

According to the police preliminary investigations have revealed that Kalolo had two outstanding criminal cases of armed robbery and robbery with aggravating circumstances.

The control prosecutor at the Katutura Magistrate’s Court, Pieter Smit, has commented on the fact that media were denied access to the courtroom.

He said there are instances where the media and the public are not allowed to attend certain court proceedings, such as in-camera cases.

However, he said this was a first appearance and he was not aware of any directive from the NDF to allow for certain circumstances.

Meanwhile, the People’s Litigation Centre (PLC) has lodged a complaint of crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court.

The complaint is for crimes committed by the NDF, Namibia Correctional Services, Windhoek City Police and the Namibian Police during Operation Hornkranz and Operation Kahalari Desert.

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