Ruling in N$36.7m lawsuit deferred

07 December 2017 | Justice

The ruling in the N$36.7 million lawsuit against the State, lodged by a former Caprivi treason accused, for malicious prosecution and illegal detention was yesterday postponed to 6 March 2018.

Judge Shafimana Ueitele informed the parties that the judgment was not yet ready. He had in early June postponed the matter after counsel for both Mukendwa and the respondents concluded their arguments at the end of the hearing.

The 73-year-old Kasika Rodwell Mukendwa is suing the government for infringement of his constitutional rights. The former treason accused is suing the safety and security ministry, the Office of the Prosecutor-General and the government.

Mukendwa is among those freed in 2012, 13 years after his arrest, after the State conceded that the charges levelled against him had not been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

His argument is that if the prosecutors had exercised diligence, care and objectivity, they would have stopped his prosecution on 18 November 2005. According to him, the State continued prosecuting him to 10 August 2012, without a single witness testifying against him.

He is arguing that this was done by the prosecution team to deliberately punish him for crimes he did not commit and added that his prosecution was wrongful and malicious, saying there was no probable and reasonable cause for it. The State should have halted the prosecution in terms of the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Act on 18 November 2005 or 6 March 2006, or within a reasonable period, he argued. The applicant claimed that he was arrested without a warrant and in circumstances where there was no probable cause for his arrest, and that the police also wrongfully and maliciously set the law in motion against him by laying false charges without reasonable and probable cause. Mukendwa was the first person to be acquitted on 10 August 2012 in the nine-year marathon trial. He was accused number 106 in the trial in which the remaining 110 men face 278 charges of high treason, sedition, murder and attempted murder in connection with a failed August 1999 attempt to secede the then Caprivi Strip from Namibia by force. The State had admitted in 2015 that Mukendwa was arrested without a warrant and that he was held in a place of detention while awaiting trial. However, the State argued that there was reasonable suspicion that he committed serious crimes and was involved in the unlawful attack on government installations on 2 August 1999 at Katima Mulilo. There was information that allegedly implicated Mukendwa and constituted probable cause, justifying prosecution in terms of the country's laws. The defendants further added that Mukendwa's trial started within reasonable time.

He was arrested on 26 August 1999 at Katima Mulilo and spent almost 13 years in detention before he was released on 10 August 2012 after the prosecution conceded it did not prove his guilt on any of the 278 charges on which he and 120 others were co-accused. All of them were alleged to have taken part in a plot to take up arms to secede the then Caprivi Region from Namibia in the late 1990s and stood trial before Judge Elton Hoff.

FRED GOEEIMAN

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