Namibia: Lawyer's Exit Delays Trial Over Fatal House Robbery

ONE of the defence lawyers representing five men charged with carrying out a deadly house robbery at Walvis Bay three years ago withdrew from their case yesterday - resulting in the start of their trial being delayed again.

The trial of the five men accused of having murdered Walvis Bay businessman Hans-Jörg Möller in an armed robbery in his home was scheduled to start before judge Dinnah Usiku in the Windhoek High Court yesterday, but instead ended up being postponed after defence lawyer Titus Mbaeva informed the court that he was withdrawing from the matter.

Mbaeva, who represented the first accused in the case, Panduleni Gotlieb (33), told judge Usiku he was withdrawing because it appeared that he and Gotlieb disagreed about how to handle the case. He came to realise this when he had a consultation with Gotlieb in prison on Monday, Mbaeva said.

Mbaeva is the second defence lawyer representing Gotlieb who has withdrawn from his case. A previous legal representative withdrew in November last year, when the trial had first been scheduled to start.

Following Mbaeva's withdrawal, Gotlieb told the judge he wanted to be represented by a lawyer during his trial, and wished to apply for legal aid again.

Judge Usiku, who warned Gotlieb that she would not allow him to frustrate the court proceedings by having his defence lawyers withdraw, postponed the case to Tuesday next week to give him and the Directorate of Legal Aid time to sort out his legal representation.

Gotlieb and his co-accused - David Tashiya (32), David Shekundja (37), Elly Ndapuka Hinaivali (32) and Malakia Shiweda (31) - are charged with counts of murder, attempted murder, conspiracy to commit housebreaking and armed robbery, housebreaking and robbery with aggravating circumstances, and illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition.

The state is alleging that they broke into Möller's house at Walvis Bay during the night of 16 to 17 June 2016, shot Möller in the abdomen, assaulted his wife, and robbed the couple by stealing a host of goods, including money, cellphones, a laptop computer, a camera and jewellery, from them.

Möller (50) died in a hospital a day after the robbery.

The state is also alleging that the five accused conspired to commit the armed robbery at the Möllers' house by planning the crime at Walvis Bay, Ondangwa and an unknown district in Namibia during June 2016.

Gotlieb and his co-accused are being kept in custody.

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