26 February 2013

Namibia: Double Booking Delays Lewin Murder Trial

Windhoek — The double booking of two lawyers for murder accused Siegfried 'Doddie' Lewin resulted in his trial being delayed again on Monday.

Lewin needed a new defence counsel after Boris Isaacks unexpectedly withdrew as his lawyer citing contradictory instructions from his client. This time around the Directorate of Legal Aid appointed two lawyers, Nolan Swartz and Montgommery Karuaihe to defend Lewin, both with appointment letters from the Legal Aid.

Karuaihe however could not make it to Lewin's trial yesterday, as he was involved in another case resulting in the hearing being postponed to Thursday to sort out the matter. According to inside information, Lewin prefers Swartz to defend him and he has already consulted with him over the past weekend.

Lewin and Rayno Olivier face one count of murder, one count of robbery with aggravating circumstances and one count of defeating or obstructing or attempting to defeat or obstruct the course of justice and alternatively violating a dead body.

They stand accused of murdering Ellis Mesututjike Tjipueja during the period of June 13 to 27 2007 near Rietoog in the Rehoboth District. They are also charged with robbing Tjipueja of N$20 000 in cash, an Isuzu pick-up truck (bakkie) and a cellphone by using force.

It is further alleged by the State that Lewin and Olivier set alight the body of Tjipueja after killing him and that they threatened witnesses with violence and extorted money from the wife of the deceased, Isolde Tjipueja, through intimidation. Both men pleaded not guilty to all charges.

During the testimony of the first witness in the case, the deceased Tjipueja's wife, Isolde, allegations of bribery, extortion and various underhand dealings came to light. She testified among others that the family of her deceased husband allegedly tried to bribe Lewin with N$500 000 to point the finger at her as the one who masterminded her husband's gruesome murder.

She further testified that Lewin told her that the brothers of her dead husband wanted the farm that belonged to her husband and there was also talk of 'klippies' (diamonds) and apparently a lot of money involved. She also testified that the elder brother of her husband threatened her over the phone, saying: 'Those people that you wanted to stay silent are talking now and you will go to jail.'

While she denies any knowledge of the supposed 'klippies' and other illegal shenanigans, she allegedly told 'Doddie' "they can take their things, I'm not interested in them." This allegation is sure to provide a new twist to the trial, as the testimony of Lewin will be eagerly awaited to see if he substantiates the allegations of the widow.

According to the widow, the brother of her dead husband repeatedly stopped her from calling the police to report her husband missing, quoting a certain 'Hendrik' who had allegedly contacted him. This Hendrik, however, appears nowhere on the list of State witnesses which already number more than 60.

Olivier secured the services of Advocate Winnie Christiaans on instructions from the Legal Aid. Advocate Palmer Khumalo is appearing for the State. The murder case continues.

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