11 June 2019

Namibia: Lawyers Clash On Guilt of Woman Accused of Trafficking

Windhoek — The two lawyers involved in the trial of a woman accused of luring two under-aged girls from a village in northern Namibia under false promises of employment and then sold them into sexual slavery, yesterday argued on her guilt or innocence.

Tuufilwa Jonas, 33, is facing five counts of rape and three counts of trafficking in persons after she allegedly trafficked a young girl from Okahenge village in the Omusati Region for sexual exploitation during 2012.

She pleaded not guilty to all charges at the start of her trial through an Oshiwambo interpreter.

State Advocate Felisitas Sikerete-Vendura told the court that the complainant in the matter, although a single witness, was truthful and reliable and stood the test of cross-examination.

She further said that the evidence of the girl was corroborated by the testimonies of other witnesses including the sister of the accused.

On the other hand, Sikerete-Vendura said, the version of the accused is just a bare denial.

She said that even the boyfriend of the accused testified that he was present when the accused and John Puariune, the man she allegedly sold the girl to, made the deal for the girl to be brought from the north as his girlfriend.

According to the prosecutor, the issue which the court now has to decide is which of the two mutually destructive versions the court should uphold, the version of the State or the bare denials of the accused.

She asked the court to evaluate the evidence in its totality, and not in a piecemeal fashion, to come to a just and proper decision which is that the State has proven its case against Jonas beyond a reasonable doubt.

Milton Engelbrecht who is representing Jonas on instructions from legal aid, asked the court to find his client not guilty on all charges.

However, he said, should the court find that Jonas indeed trafficked the complainant from the north in order to be sexually abused, it should not duplicate the charges.

According to Engelbrecht, the offences, if proven, happened in the same instance thus should be taken as one.

But, said Engelbrecht, this was not the case.

According to him the complainant already knew before she landed at Okahandja that she was to be the girlfriend of someone.

"The accused already in the north told the girls at her village that she has colleagues who are looking for girlfriends and while the other girls declined, the complainant was interested," Engelbrecht stated.

He further accused the complainant of trying to deceive the court and said she was not a credible or reliable witness.

He stressed that the complainant did not inform people in authority, the nurse at the hospital where she received family planning or anybody for that matter, that she is being forced into having sexual relations with men against her will.

According to him, the complainant freely and voluntarily engaged in sexual relations with different men and now wants the court to condone her behaviour by punishing the woman who was only kind to her.

He asked the court to find that the State failed dismally to prove all the allegations against Jonas.

Judge Naomi Shivute reserved her judgement till July 31 at 10h00 and Jonas remains in custody at the Klein Windhoek Police Station.

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