28 February 2013

Namibia: Ex-NBC Employee Disputes Treason Claims

A FORMER Namibian Broadcasting Corporation employee who is one of the accused in the main Caprivi high treason trial denied having been involved in a plot to secede the Caprivi Region from Namibia when he testified in his own defence this week.

He did not host meetings at his house where the suggestion that the Caprivi Region should secede from Namibia was discussed, he did not agree to broadcast news about separatists' planned takeover of the region on the NBC's Silozi service, and he is not a supporter of the idea that the region should be an independent state, separate from the Republic of Namibia, Leonard Ntelamo told Judge Elton Hoff yesterday.

Ntelamo was the second of the 65 accused persons remaining on trial before Judge Hoff to testify in his own defence in the High Court at Windhoek Central Prison, where the defence started to present its case on Monday.

Ntelamo told the court that he was arrested on August 4 1999. Since then, he has remained in custody. He was a principal operations assistant at the NBC's Silozi radio service at Katima Mulilo before his arrest.

Under cross-examination from Deputy Prosecutor General Herman January yesterday, Ntelamo agreed that he is a Namibian citizen and that he owes allegiance the the Namibian State.

He said he first became aware of separatist sentiments in the Caprivi Region when 92 people, led by former DTA President Mishake Muyongo, left the region to seek refuge in Botswana near the end of 1998.

"I was concerned in the sense that I was worried, why are people running?" Ntelamo said.

As an ordinary citizen he did not think he could do anything about the events which were taking place in the region at the time, he added.

Ntelamo said he was not aware beforehand of the attacks which suspected secessionists staged at Katima Mulilo on August 2 1999.

His opinion about the activities of a secessionist movement in the region was: "It's unlawful, it's not right. It's unfortunate if such a situation takes place. I didn't like it."

Pressed by January on his views about secession, Ntelamo said he did not support such an idea, and that he is quite satisfied with the Caprivi Region being a part of Namibia, with Government's treatment of the region and with the current situation in the region.

He would never support the violent secession of the region, but if secession were to happen through peaceful negotiations - which he believes is unlikely - he would support it, he also indicated.

Ntelamo disputed the claims of a prosecution witness who told the court back in 2005 that a meeting about secession was held at Ntelamo's house in 1998, and that he was to announce on the NBC's Silozi service that secessionists had taken over places in the region.

The witness who made those allegations is a distant cousin of his, but he did not even know where Ntelamo's house is in Katima Mulilo, Ntelamo said.

Ntelamo's wife, Veronica Ntelamo, also testified in his defence yesterday.

She said she never supported the secession of the Caprivi Region, and her husband did not support such an idea either.

She did not know the witness who claimed that meetings during which the region's secession was discussed had been held at their house, and did not know of any such meetings taking place at their house either, she said.

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