TWO of the suspects accused of having been involved in a N$2,2 million robbery of a foreign businessman in Klein Windhoek two months ago denied knowing anything about the alleged crime yesterday.
Michael Shidiwe (53) and Eliaser Amukoto (50) denied the charges against them when they testified in a bail application before Magistrate Ingrid Unengu in the Windhoek Magistrate's Court.
According to Shidiwe and Amukoto both of them are men of considerable means.
Amukoto told the court he owns a house valued at about N$3,2 million in one of Windhoek's most upmarket streets in Eros, and also owns three other houses, with a combined value of about N$1,3 million, in the city.
He estimated that erven which he owns in Windhoek and at Okahao are worth about N$2,4 million, while his four cars - which also include two Mercedes-Benzes - are worth about N$1,1 million.
Amukoto told the court that he dropped out of school in what was then Standard 4 (Grade 6) in 1976. In the early 1980s he worked for five years in Windhoek at a place where he was preparing hamburgers, after which he moved to Ongwediva, where he worked as a garbage truck driver for his uncle up to 1990, he said.
He later made some money though gambling machines which he had bought, he said.
Nowadays, he has a business doing building, plumbing and electrical work, which is earning him about N$70 000 a month, Amukoto claimed.
He said he would however only be able to afford to pay up to N$10 000 in bail, as he has many monthly expenses which should be covered by his normal income.
Shidiwe said he owns a house valued at N$800 000 in Wanaheda in Windhoek, and also owns erven valued at about N$1 million at Okahandja and Henties Bay. He also has three cars - two of them Mercedes-Benzes - with a combined value of about N$1,6 million, and cattle worth an estimated N$300 000, he claimed.
The two men, together with police constables Nestor Kashuupulwa (34) and Mupopwa Mupopiwa (32), are applying to be released on bail while charges of robbery and impersonating a member of the Namibian Police remain pending against them.
The first accused in their case, Josia 'Zorro' Muhongo (53), was granted bail in an amount of N$30 000 on Monday.
The bail application of Muhongo's four co-accused started before Magistrate Unengu after Magistrate Gibson Imbili, who initially had been set to preside at the bail hearing, recused himself from hearing the matter yesterday morning.
The prosecution asked for Magistrate Imbili's recusal on Tuesday because of claims that he was related to Muhongo and had in the past had a business relationship with Shidiwe.
Muhongo was granted bail by another magistrate.
The five charged men are accused of having been involved in an alleged robbery in which N$2,2 million was stolen from a Lebanese businessman in Klein Windhoek on May 16. The incident allegedly took place while the businessman, Vicken Kaprelian, and Muhongo were at a house where Kaprelian was supposed to have a meeting with Shidiwe about the possible sale of an oil exploration licence.
It is alleged that three men stormed into the house and, identifying themselves as police officers, announced that they were investigating illegal activities. One of the supposed police officers then left with a bag containing the N$2,2 million that Kaprelian is claimed to have had in his possession.
In his testimony yesterday Shidiwe, who has spent the past two months in custody, told the magistrate that he did not rob anyone, did not impersonate a police officer, and did not take any money from anyone on May 16.
"I am innocent in this case," he said repeatedly, while refusing to answer more detailed questions about the merits of the charges against them.
Amukoto, who was arrested a week ago, told the magistrate he was surprised and shocked to hear that he was being accused of having been involved in a robbery.
In his entire life he has never been involved in such a crime, he claimed.
He knows nothing about the May 16 incident, Amukoto said.
The court also heard that Amukoto was pointed out at an identification parade which the police held after he was detained last week. He was identified by mistake, Amukoto said.
The bail hearing continues today.
Amukoto is being represented by defence lawyer Sisa Namandje. Gerson Hinda and Namandje are representing Shidiwe.
Deputy Prosecutor General Jackson Kuutondokwa, assisted by Taodago Gaweseb, are representing the State, which is opposing the four men's request for bail.