18 September 2018

Namibia: Judge Dismisses Application for Leave to Appeal Recusal Refusal

Acting Windhoek High Court Judge Johanna Salionga yesterday afternoon refused an application by the State funded lawyers for the accused in the murder for hire trial in the Windhoek High Court without giving any reasons. Judge Salionga only read the order dismissing the application and indicated she will present her reasons today at 09h00.

The lawyers for the accused asked the judge to recuse herself from the trial for bias after she admitted confessions that Anastancia Lubinda, 34, - who allegedly hired five men to kill her husband, Peter Riscoh Muleke, 36, and two of her co-accused David Kondjara, 32, and Donald Hindjou made. Lubinda made a confession to Magistrate Rina Horn in which she admitted that she hired David Matali, 47, Kondjara, 32, Abed Uazeua, Hindjou and Oviritje artist Dollam Dollam Tjitjahuma, 27 to kill Muleke. Likewise did Kondjara and Hindjou make confessions before Magistrate Suritha Savage and Vanessa Stanley respectively.

Their lawyers claimed that the judge admitted the confessions that contained glaring omissions and material mistakes in an attempt to protect the magistrates whom she worked with closely as Chief Magistrate for several years.

They point-blankly accused Acting Judge Salionga of protecting the magistrates who took down the confessions in dispute.

In her ruling, Judge Salionga referred to the magistrates as very experienced judicial officers who are not liable to make material errors.

Milton Engelbrecht - for Lubinda - argued that Acting Judge Salionga, as the current Chief Magistrate, felt obliged to sweep the mistakes of especially Magistrates Horn and Savage under the carpet to protect her subordinates. He said if she was fair, she would have rejected the validity of the confessions of Lubinda and Kondjara where material mistakes were made and allowed the confession of Hindjou which did not contain material inconsistencies.

All of the rest of the lawyers indicated to Judge Salionga they support Engelbrecht's application with Trevor Brockerhoff acting on behalf of David Matali, 45, who in the meantime died, straight-up telling the judge her ruling on the admissibility of the confessions was extremely biased and conflicting. The accused disputed the confessions on the basis they were not made free and voluntarily and that two of the magistrates who took the confessions made material mistakes in taking down the confessions. The accused also claimed they were beaten by the investigating officer and unduly influenced to make the confessions.

Yesterday, the matter was remanded to September 27 after Engelbrecht indicated to the judge that he holds instructions to lodge a petition to the Chief Justice to hear the matter in the Supreme Court.

According to him, he is sure the petition will succeed and asked the judge to halt the matter until the Supreme Court has pronounced itself.

Advocate Marthino Olivier for the State argued against an indefinite postponement and argued that the matter should proceed while the Supreme Court decision is pending. Acting Judge Salionga was not so keen to have the matter postponed until the Supreme Court decision and postponed it to next week for the other defence counsels to be present. Engelbrecht was standing in for Tuna Nhinda, Meriam Kenaruzo and Natji Tjirera while Mbanga Siyomunji was present.

Muleke's lifeless and bloodied body was found a few metres from his car, surrounded by stones of various sizes, some of them bloodied near Penduka at the Goreangab Dam on March 30, 2015.

According to reports, Lubinda hired her co-accused to kill her husband for the fee of N$5,000.

2018-09-18 09:21:09 1 hours ago

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