Case Withdrawals Raised Suspicions Over Magistrate

TWO curious entries in a court book used at the Oshakati Magistrate’s Court triggered the events that have landed a former magistrate, Melaney Theron, in the dock in the Windhoek High Court on 20 criminal charges.

An Oshakati-based magistrate, Mikka Namweya, testified in Theron’s trial in the Windhoek High Court on Tuesday that he became suspicions after another magistrate approached him at the end of June 2011 with a query about entries in a court book showing that two cases on the court roll that day had been withdrawn. The other magistrate was puzzled by those entries, which were made in Theron’s handwriting, because he had not yet handled the cases on the roll of his court for that day and he still had the case records of the matters in question, Namweya said.

Namweya also testified that he had heard rumours that a magistrate at the Oshakati Magistrate’s Court – described as “a brown or coloured magistrate” – was assisting people with traffic tickets to make admission of guilt payments. Because the rumours were unsubstantiated at that stage, he did not do anything about it, Namweya said.

After a clerk at the court informed him that people were going to Theron’s office to have problems with their traffic tickets sorted out, he decided to alert the police, and an investigation was launched, Namweya said.

This eventually led to a trap being set for Theron, he testified.

Theron was charged after she was allegedly trapped receiving payments of N$1 000 and N$100 respectively from two police officers on 15 August 2011.

Namweya testified that the police officers, who are due to also testify in Theron’s trial, told him that day that they had received a phone call telling them to go to Theron’s office – which according to Namweya had become notorious by then.

Theron pleaded not guilty to 20 main charges when her trial started before Judge Nate Ndauendapo on Monday.

The prosecution alleges that between 26 May and 15 August 2011 Theron accepted amounts of money totalling N$6 600 from various people who were accused of traffic offences. She allegedly used that money for her personal benefit.

It is also alleged that she cancelled warrants of arrest issued against accused traffic offenders, and that she, in some instances, recorded on court records that the cases against the people had been withdrawn or that they had been cautioned after they had pleaded guilty, while they had in fact not appeared in court.

The charges against Theron are made up of seven counts of corruptly using her office or position for gratification, five counts of fraudulently concealing an offence by falsifying or destroying a document, which is also an offence under the Anti-Corruption Act, two charges of corruptly soliciting or accepting or agreeing to accept a bribe, and six counts of defeating or obstructing the course of justice.

The court clerk mentioned by Namweya, Sharon Morkel, testified yesterday that she informed Namweya after two people had approached her at the court to ask for directions to Theron’s office in connection with traffic tickets.

She also testified that traffic fine payments should be made only to the revenue clerk at the court or to another clerk acting in the revenue clerk’s place. Such payments cannot be made to a magistrate, she said.

Under cross-examination from defence lawyer Garth Joseph, who is representing Theron, Morkel agreed that she had never seen anyone making any payments to Theron in her office.

The trial is continuing. State aocate Simba Nduna is prosecuting.

Comment on this article

Name:

Email:

Comment:

I confirm that I read the Terms and Conditions and that I accept it.

Source : The Namibian