20 March 2017

Namibia: Ex-Magistrate in Dock On Corruption Charges

A FORMER magistrate who resigned as a judicial officer after being suspended from her position early last year will have to stand trial on two criminal charges, the prosecutor general has decided.

Having been arrested at Rundu on 2 March, ex-magistrate Hileni Kavara (33) made her first appearance in the dock in the Windhoek Regional Court, where she is due to be tried, on Friday.

Kavara was arrested after the prosecutor general decided to indict her on a charge of defeating or obstructing the course of justice, alternatively corruptly using an office or position for gratification, which is an offence under the Anti-Corruption Act, and a count of corruptly using a false document, which is also an offence in terms of the Anti-Corruption Act.

The charges emanate from an attempt that Kavara made near the end of 2015 to prevent losing a N$50 000 bail deposit she had paid to have her then boyfriend released from custody on a charge of drug dealing.

With her court appearance before magistrate Ileni Velikoshi on Friday, Kavara was told that she was scheduled to go on trial in the same court on 4 December. Her case was postponed to that date, and she would remain free on N$2 000 bail.

Kavara's career as a magistrate hit the skids in December 2015 when she on her own admission intervened in a case in which her former boyfriend, one Mohammed Shabani, was still facing a charge of dealing in cocaine. In that case, Kavara testified in favour of Shabani's request to be granted bail and later also paid his bail of N$50 000.

The bail was declared provisionally forfeited to the state on 26 November 2015, after Shabani failed to appear in court for a scheduled hearing on an application by Kavara to have her bail deposit returned to her.

With Shabani a fugitive from justice at that stage, Kavara intervened in the matter on 11 December 2015 by ordering the reinstatement of Shabani's bail in an entry that was made on the court record of his case and was backdated to 26 November 2015.

An investigation was launched after the prosecutor general reported the matter to the Anti-Corruption Commission, and by 18 January last year, the Magistrates Commission notified Kavara that since she had allegedly amended a case record and reinstated bail in the absence of a prosecutor and court interpreter, there was reason to believe she had made herself guilty of misconduct, and that the commission had decided to suspend her.

After her suspension, Kavara turned to Facebook to vent against the prosecutor general, the magistracy and Magistrates' Commission, some of her fellow magistrates individually, and some prosecutors - prompting the Magistrates' Commission to obtain an interdict forbidding her from continuing to publish defamatory material about the commission, in the Windhoek High Court in March last year.

Kavara resigned from her post after her suspension.

Defence counsel Jan Wessels represented Kavara on Friday. Public prosecutor Seredine Jacobs represented the state.

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