Windhoek — Windhoek High Court Judge Dinnah Usiku yesterday issued a stern warning to the main accused in the murder and robbery trial of five men accused of breaking into the residence of Walvis Bay businessman, Captain Hans-Jorg Möller that she will not tolerate any disruptions.
Möller was shot during the daring robbery when he came to the defense of his wife and children in the early morning hours of June 17, 2016. The warning came after the State lawyer, Titus Mbaeva, withdrew from the matter citing a misunderstanding between him and Panduleni Gotlieb, 32, about an instruction that was not carried out.
According to Mbaeva, while consulting with Gotlieb, he came across an application by Gotlieb for further particulars dated August 2, 2019, in his (Gotlieb) papers while he already filed such application when he first took over the case which was dismissed.
He said they could not agree on how to proceed with the defense. Gotlieb told the court that he wants to apply for another legal representative through Legal Aid. He also said it was not his fault that both his legal representatives withdrew from the trial, but that they do not want to follow his instructions. According to him, he needs a lawyer that understands him. Judge Usiku did not take too kindly to the happenings and told Gotlieb in no uncertain terms what she thinks about the behaviour of
accused persons, who cause their legal representatives to withdraw because of untenable instructions.
"The fact that you are constitutionally entitled to legal aid does not mean you can cause your legal representatives to withdraw from your trial due to unrealistic instructions," the judge said, adding that Gotlieb already had two lawyers withdraw from his defense and said she will not tolerate any disruptions.
"You must remember that you are not the only stakeholder in this matter and the other accused person's counsels has indicated they are ready to proceed," she stated and added: Justice delayed is justice denied. Judge Usiku further said State witnesses had to be called and scarce resources were deployed to secure them.
Gotlieb told the judge that he only wants to be treated fairly and that he wants the trial to proceed, but with a lawyer who understands him and will follow instructions. The judge warned Gotlieb to get his house in order and remanded the matter to Tuesday next week for Gotlieb to sort out his legal aid issues. Gotlieb, together with David Tashiya (30), David Shekudja (36), Elly Ndapuka Hinaivali (30) and Malakia Shiweda (29), was supposed to plead to charges of murder, attempted murder, conspiracy to commit housebreaking with the intent to rob and robbery with aggravating circumstances, housebreaking with the intent to rob and robbery with aggravating circumstances and two counts of unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition.
According to the charge sheet, the accused planned during June 2016 to break and enter into the residence of the Möller family and to rob money and other valuable items from them armed with knives, firearms and other dangerous weapons. It is alleged by the State that the five accused acted with a common purpose.