Namibia: Soldier Denied Bail On Murder Charge

10 September 2019

THE Namibian Defence Force soldier who allegedly shot and killed a civilian while taking part in the police's anti-crime 'Operation Kalahari Desert' last week was denied bail with his first appearance in the Windhoek Magistrate's Court in Katutura yesterday.

Appearing in court on a charge of murder, NDF soldier Darrel Mulele Nyambe was informed that his case was being postponed to 29 January 2020 and that he would be kept in custody in the meantime.

Nyambe is charged with having fatally shot Benisius Kalola (32) at the single quarters in Katutura, Windhoek, on Thursday last week. Kalola is the second person to die at the hands of a soldier under 'Operation Kalahari Desert', after a Zimbabwean citizen making a living as a taxi driver in Namibia, Fambauone Black (22), was shot dead when he allegedly tried to evade a police roadblock in Windhoek in June this year.

With the courtroom in which Nyambe appeared yesterday filled to capacity before the start of proceedings, police officers closed the doors of the courtroom and ordered people without seats, including some members of the media, to leave - something which did not sit well with Kalola's family, who felt they were protecting Nyambe.

Nyambe, according to the court record, had his rights to legal representation and to apply for bail explained to him before his case was postponed.

Public prosecutor Victoria Likius informed the court that bail was not advisable for Nyambe as it would not be in the interest of justice and since police investigations are still in their preliminary stages.

Speaking to the media outside, an aunt of Kalola, Laina Nekundi, said she was upset that she and many were not allowed to go inside the courtroom as it was full. "How will we know on what basis the case would be postponed to maybe next year?" she asked.

Nekundi said a memorial for Kalola, who had two children, would be held in Windhoek today, with another in the north tomorrow and his burial to take place on Thursday.

"As family members we are not happy [with] the way they seem to protect him [Nyambe]," said Nekundi, adding that the family was still waiting for an autopsy report and looking for legal advice to see if they will sue the police. Police spokesperson Kauna Shikwambi said in a statement issued on Friday that Kalola had been charged with counts of robbery with aggravating circumstances in two criminal cases which were still pending at the time of his death. Both cases were registered at the Katutura Police Station.

On Sunday, Shikwambi said Kalola also had a case involving a charge of housebreaking with intent to steal and theft, which was registered at Ongwediva in 2017.

"That is the case in which the deceased was wanted. He was out on bail and a warrant for his arrest was issued when he failed to show up for court," said Shikwambi.

Nekundi said Kalola's family did not know about any of the cases, and just read about it in the newspapers. A cousin of Kalola who wanted to remain anonymous addressed the allegations that have been made about Kalola's alleged troubles with the law. "We are grieving, our brother was innocently killed in cold blood, and now we have to deal with the fact that all these cases are coming up and we don't know where they are coming from," he said.

"They are telling us that our brother was an armed robber and a fugitive from 2017. He has been living with us, why did they not come to us if they were looking for him?"

'Operation Kalahari Desert' is a joint effort between the Namibian Police and Namibian Defence Force to fight crime on the streets of Namibia. Although it has been applauded for taking drugs and weapons off the streets, the operation has also caused public outrage because of violence that security force members have used against members of the public.

Ombudsman John Walters yesterday said if police officers and soldiers taking part in the operation have been trained on how to deal with the public and failed to adhere to the training, they must be removed from the streets.

"We claim we fought for peace and we live in peace. I do not see why law enforcement agencies need to be deployed to the streets with lethal weapons. I also do not hear anyone mentioning if any warning shots were fired. Why were they not fired?" he asked.

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