Namibia: Virus Delays Lawyer's Theft Case

14 October 2020

Windhoek High Court acting Judge Kobus Miller on Monday warned lawyer Hipura Ujaha that he must be ready to commence with the trial of 43-year-old estate administrator Mervin Kozonguizi if he is declared fit to stand trial on 16 November this year.

This is after Ujaha asked for another postponement due to Kozonguizi having tested positive for Covid-19 and isolating at home.

Ujaha first asked the court to hold the session in camera, as his client's medical condition is confidential, but after hearing it is Covid-19, the judge reopened the court doors for the public.

A medical doctor, who testified on behalf of Kozonguizi, told the court that he must undergo urgent surgery to remove gallstones that cause him severe pancreatic attacks and that he will not be fit for trial if the stones are not removed.

He further said that per the Covid-19 regulations, any patient that must undergo invasive surgery must be tested for Covid-19 and that Kozonguizi tested positive and must thus isolate for at least 10 days.

After the 10 days, the doctor said, he will be retested and if he is negative, surgery will then be done.

The judge wanted to know from Ujaha how much time he will need after surgery to recuperate and the lawyer told the judge that he seeks a postponement until the middle of November to assess the situation and decide the way forward, as they are currently attempting to procure the service of a senior counsel.

He further told the court they are in consultation with recently-admitted James Diedericks and needs to find suitable dates.

The judge would, however, have none of this and told Ujaha in no uncertain terms that if they fail to secure the services of Diedericks for the set dates, he (Ujaha) must continue with the trial on his own.

Kozonguizi is to answer to charges of allegedly siphoning millions of dollars from two deceased estates.

In the indictment, the State alleges during the period from 19 September 2014 to August 2015, Kozonguizi stole N$6.4 million from the estate of the late Gustav Kandjambi Tjiuiju that he was administering.

It also claims that between 3 December 2015 and June 2016, Kozonguizi stole N$1 million from the estate of the late Dorothia Yolandi Beukes.

According to the indictment, Kozonguizi first bought a Ford Ranger pick-up for N$454 000 at the end of September 2015 - eleven days after the N$7.9 million raised from the sale of a farm owned by the late Tjiuiju had been paid into the personal bank account of Kozonguizi and a plot of land at Omeya south of Windhoek, for which he paid N$620 000 - about two and a half weeks after the money from the farm sale had landed in his account.

It is further alleged that in February 2015, Kozonguizi again dipped into the money allegedly stolen from Tjiuiju's estate to buy land at Okahandja for N$2.1 million.

The state is also charging that on 4 December 2015, a day after he received N$1 million that was supposed to be distributed to the heirs of the late Beukes, Kozonguizi allegedly used N$420 000 of that money to buy a Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV.

He faces 16 charges of money laundering based on allegations that he used the money stolen from the two estates to make payments to other people and buy cars and properties for himself.

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