Namibia: City Shooting Case Sent to High Court

THE man charged with murdering a former colleague and seriously wounding another woman in a shooting in a Windhoek office building nearly six months ago will have to stand trial in the High Court, the prosecutor general has decided.

The prosecutor general has directed that Simataa Simasiku (33) should be prosecuted in the Windhoek High Court on charges of murder, attempted murder, alternatively negligent discharge of a firearm, and discharge of a firearm in a public place, Simasiku was informed when he made his latest appearance in the Windhoek Magistrate's Court yesterday.

He was also told that he will have to attend a first pretrial hearing in the High Court on 15 August. He is remaining in custody in the meantime.

Simasiku was arrested on 28 January, after he surrendered to the police following a shooting that had taken place at the offices of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in the City Centre building in Windhoek earlier the same day.

The fund's director in Namibia, Sarah Mwilima (51), was killed in the shooting, while a colleague, Ester Nepolo, was also shot and seriously injured. Simasiku is a former employee of the Global Fund. He did not want to testify about the incident itself during a bail hearing in June, but did tell magistrate Vanessa Stanley that he was at the fund's offices on the day of the shooting, and had entered Mwilima's office. Simasiku pleaded not guilty on charges of murder and attempted murder in the Windhoek Magistrate's Court on 13 June.

Also during the bail hearing, Simasiku said he had heard from colleagues at the Global Fund that there was money held for him by the fund - he mentioned an amount of US$7,5 million - and he at one stage also saw an amount of N$90 million reflected on his bank account statement, after he had been experiencing health problems that resulted in him being booked off from work.

He also said he believed the money he was due to receive came from the Global Fund in Geneva, and had been requested by his local managers, who wanted to help him when they saw he was in ill-health.

According to Simasiku, he noticed an amount of N$90 million had been linked to his bank account, but this notice on his account was later taken off, and he then went to ask Mwilima about the situation a number of times.

Simasiku recounted that he was told he had to wait, as the fund was still checking how much they were going to give to him, but in the end, he never received any money, and he believed his colleagues had divided the millions he was due to receive among themselves instead.

He said he went to the Office of the Ombudsman to complain about the situation, and tried to get an appointment with the executive director in the health ministry, but this was to no avail.

Magistrate Stanley commented in her ruling, in which she turned down Simasiku's request to be released on bail, that the evidence before her pointed to "a ruthless and cowardly shooting of two women at their workplace, by an aggrieved colleague".

Simasiku was not represented by a lawyer during yesterday's court appearance. Public prosecutor Laura Mabuku represented the state.

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