Karasburg lawyer Thea Scheepers of Cox & De Kock legal practitioners yesterday appeared in the Keetmanshoop Regional Court on a charge of defeating the ends of justice in a stock theft case against three farmers.
The accused farmers are Louis Phillips Descande, Heino Christopher van Zyl and Christine van Zyl, who are each being charged with one count of stock theft for allegedly stealing 130 sheep valued at N$130 000 from farm Sandputs in the Aroab district. Scheepers is accused of having instructed Descande to put ear tags on sheep that were alleged to have been stolen, and were the subject of a stock theft investigation.
The lawyer's charge-sheet states that she did this while knowing or should have foreseen the possibility that her conduct might frustrate or interfere with police investigations into whether the sheep belonged to Descande, or lead to the concealment, destruction or hiding of physical evidence.
Scheepers and the three stock theft accused pleaded not guilty to their respective charges at the start of their trial yesterday.
In her plea explanation, Scheepers denied that she at any stage acted wrongfully and unlawfully, or had any intent to defeat the course of justice. She also denied knowing or foreseeing the possibility that her conduct might frustrate or interfere with police investigations.
She claimed that she and the public prosecutor had agreed, after Descande had enlisted her to represent him following his arrest, to inspect, identify and mark the alleged stolen sheep.
This agreement, she said, was placed on record when Descande and Heino van Zyl made their first court appearance on 2 January 2015.
She said the ownership dispute of the alleged stolen sheep arose as a result of the sheep being removed from Heino van Zyl's farm without having been properly marked by the police.
The complainant, Giel Both, yesterday testified in court that the alleged stolen sheep were driven from farm Sandputs onto farm Tranedal, owned by Heino van Zyl, after a border fence had been unfastened and fixed again afterwards.
He told the court sheep tracks which he found at the crime scene clearly indicated that the alleged stolen sheep had been driven onto farm Tranedal.
Both said he alerted the police, and when he arrived with the officers at Tranedal the next day, he recognised the sheep as the property of farm Sandputs, where he was the manager.
He also testified that ear tags of 98 of the 130 stolen sheep found at Tranedal had been removed and replaced.