Windhoek — A new lawyer was appointed for a former cleaner and acting hostel father at Karundu Primary School in Otjiwarongo charged with sodomy after Milton Engelbrecht withdrew as counsel of record.
Tjingairi Kaurivi was instructed by legal aid to take over the defence of Merven Nguyapeua, 49, after Engelbrecht requested Judge Alfred Siboleka to allow him to withdraw from the trial for a lack of trust between him and his client. Engelbrecht told the judge that Nguyapeua has started to question his advice which led to a breakdown in the working relationship between them. He further said that as Nguyapeua feels that he is not representing him to the best of his abilities, he feels they have reached an impasse which cannot be allowed to continue.
Judge Siboleka, before granting Engelbrecht the withdrawal, warned Nguyapeua that there are no weak or strong lawyers. According to the judge, all lawyers, including judges, have received the same legal training that allows them to practise as lawyers.
He warned the accused not to listen to "prison lawyers" as such can disrupt the coherence between a lawyer and his client. "What you may regard as of utter importance to your case may not have any legal basis, which is where your appointed legal representative comes in," the judge said and continued that "prison lawyers" do not always have the bigger picture as the lawyer who has been part of the case from the start has.
He postponed the matter yesterday to June 26 to give Kaurivi a chance to familiarise himself with the matter.
Nguyapeua is facing 32 counts of rape, or 27 alternative counts of having sexual intercourse with a child below the age of 16 years. According to the State, he forced at least 10 boys between the ages of 13 and 15 years to sodomise him after he stimulated their private parts.
The first incident allegedly occurred in 2013 and it continued until February 2016 when he was arrested.
According to the charge sheet he sexually assaulted the first boy, who was 14 years old, on six occasions during 2013 and 2014, thereafter a 13-year-old boy once, another 14-year-old once, and then a 15-year-old on three different occasions.
It is further alleged that he then raped a 14-year-old boy during January of 2015 on two occasions and again during the second term. He is further accused of raping another 14-year-old during January 2015 on two occasions as well as another boy aged 14 on three occasions during 2015.
During September of 2015 he allegedly sexually assaulted another 14-year-old on three occasions before he committed another six sexual assaults on a 13-year-old boy before he was arrested on March 1, 2016 and also raped the same boy in May 2015, the charge sheet states.
He denies all charges.
State Advocate Seredine Jacobs is prosecuting and Nguyapeua remains in custody.