Namibia: Judiciary Death Threat Case Struck Off Roll

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(File photo).
12 December 2019

A case in which a staff member of the Office of the Judiciary was charged over alleged death threats that he made against senior officials in the office, has been struck off the court roll in the Windhoek Magistrate's Court.

The case in which judiciary employee Simon Ngidinwa Mwandi was facing three charges was struck off the court roll on Thursday last week, after magistrate Celma Amadhila was informed that the police docket on the matter was not at court, and a decision on the case from the Office of the Prosecutor General was not yet available. The magistrate struck the case off the roll, and ordered that the bail deposit of N$1 000 paid to have Mwandi released from police custody should be returned to the depositor.

Mwandi was arrested on 21 June, and was charged with counts of intimidation, assault by threat, and theft, alternatively the unlawful use of property.

The state alleged that Mwandi stole payrolls of the Office of the Judiciary and wages bills of judges of the Supreme Court between March and June this year, and that he also made threats against the life of judiciary executive director Rolanda van Wyk between March and June.

Mwandi told the court during a bail hearing near the end of June that he regarded himself as a whistleblower who was trying to have alleged corruption in the Office of the Judiciary investigated. He claimed he was driven to make threats against Van Wyk and other officials in the office after he saw no action being taken following anonymous email messages about the alleged corruption that he had sent to Van Wyk. The alleged corruption concerned the appointment of an official from the ministry of health in a position in the Office of the Judiciary, without a proper recruitment process having been followed, Mwandi informed the court.

Defence lawyer Trevor Brockerhoff, who represented Mwandi, objected to the charges when Mwandi appeared in court on 26 June. Brockerhoff argued that Namibia's Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017 protected Mwandi from being criminally charged in connection with his disclosure of alleged improper conduct.

Mwandi testified during his bail hearing that when he did not see any action being taken after he had sent email messages to Van Wyk, other officials in the judiciary, and also the police, the Anti-Corruption Commission, judges of the High Court and the Office of the Chief Justice to inform them of the appointment that he regarded as corrupt, he warned Van Wyk in another message that she should act on the information by the end of June.

He also warned her that if no action was taken, he would follow the same route as had been taken in a deadly shooting in an office building in the Windhoek city centre on 28 January. Mwandi was granted bail in an amount of N$1 000 on 1 July.

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