29 January 2013

Namibia: Absent Witnesses Delay Heist Trial

THE prosecution has been given another opportunity to try to secure the attendance of two South African witnesses at the trial of the six men accused of involvement in a multimillion-dollar cash-in-transit robbery near Windhoek at the end of 2004.

The trial, which has been marked by postponements and long delays since its start in the High Court in Windhoek three years ago, was again postponed last week - this time to March 28.

On that date, the prosecution is supposed to inform Judge Naomi Shivute if it has managed to make arrangements for the two witnesses to travel to Namibia to testify as required.

It will be a final postponement for the prosecution, and if it has not made the necessary arrangements by then she will have to direct the State to close its case, Judge Shivute said.

Deputy Prosecutor General Belinda Wantenaar has informed the court that the two witnesses are supposed to testify about the recovery of money in South Africa following the cash-in-transit heist that is the subject of the trial.

The one witness is a South African police officer, and the other is a girlfriend or former girlfriend of one of the accused, Benedictus Kasimbingwe, who has implicated him in a statement which she made to the police, Wantenaar informed the judge.

The six accused men have all pleaded not guilty to a charge of robbery with aggravating circumstances.

They are accused of having played a role in an armed robbery in which N$5,735 million was allegedly stolen from a cash-in-transit vehicle in the Brakwater area north of Windhoek in the early morning hours of December 29 2004.

The men on trial are Jan Julius (41), who was one of the two security company employees travelling in the targeted cash-in-transit vehicle of Fidelity Cash Management Services when the alleged heist took place, Jason Awene (46), who is also known as 'Kilingi' and who is alleged to have been the robber who carried out the heist after Julius had picked him up as a supposed hitch-hiker, Kasimbingwe (49), George Jambeinge (42), Mateus Hauwanga (42), and Elikana Nghimwena (40). The allegation against Nghimwena is that he helped Awene get out of Namibia after the robbery.

The testimony heard before the latest postponement of the trial last week did not take the prosecution's case much further, as much of it was a repeat of testimony already heard earlier in the trial.

The former head of the Namibian Police's Serious Crime Unit, Oscar Sheehama, told the court that during his involvement in the investigation of the robbery he was informed by a South African police officer that leads followed up in South Africa had led the police to a safety deposit box at Kakamas in the Northern Cape, in which about N$1,3 million was found.

Sheehama and a former colleague, Willem Dax, further testified that money was also found in the boot of a car that was parked at a house in Hochland Park in Windhoek after Jambeinge had told the police where to find the car.

About N$1,5 million was found in the boot of the car, the court heard earlier.

Jambeinge's defence lawyer, Jorge Neves, put it to Sheehama that Jambeinge had been assaulted when he was interrogated by the police. Sheehama, noting the tall and well-built Jambeinge's physical size, denied this claim.

Neves also told Sheehama that according to Jambeinge he had sold his car to someone else at the time the money was found in its boot. Sheehama confirmed that he could remember a conversation about the selling of the car.

The six accused are all remaining free on bail.

Copyright © 2013 The Namibian. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.