Ex-Magistrate Says Trap Was Unfair

THE police trap that led to the arrest of an Oshakati-based magistrate was not fair, a defence lawyer told a witness in the Windhoek High Court on Friday.

The undercover police officer who executed the trap for former magistrate Melaney Theron pretended not to be able to speak English and simply placed a traffic ticket with N$1 000 attached to it on her desk before he left her office, defence lawyer Garth Joseph said when he put his client’s instructions to one of the police officers involved in setting the trap for the former magistrate.

Theron is also denying that she was the person who made a phone call in which a person who had supposedly received a fine for a traffic violation was told that he had to go to the Oshakati Magistrate’s Court to pay the fine, and that he would receive a discount on his N$2 000 fine if the payment was made on the same day, Joseph said while cross-examining the witness.

The witness is an inspector attached to the Namibian Police’s Special Branch. Judge Nate Ndauendapo has ordered that the identity of the witness identity may not be revealed by the media, after State aocate Simba Nduna applied for an order to that effect.

The witness testified about his role in the investigation of allegations that Theron was receiving payments from traffic offenders while she was stationed at the Oshakati Magistrate’s Court.

Theron has pleaded not guilty to a total of 20 main charges, 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 prosecution is alleging 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 that had been 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traffic offenders and that she in some instances recorded on court records that the cases against the people had been withdrawn or that they had been cautioned after they had pleaded guilty, while they in fact had not appeared in court.

The witness testified that he and a colleague decided to set a trap for Theron after they had received instructions to investigate suspicions around her.

He said they created a fake traffic ticket, which was then put among genuine traffic tickets at the Oshakati Magistrate’s Court. A false name and the cellphone number of one of them were put on the ticket.

On 15 August 2011 a person identifying herself as Magistrate Theron called the number from a phone number at the court and told him that he had a traffic ticket in which he was fined N$2 000, the witness said. The caller also told him that he would have to pay only N$1 000 if he paid the fine that day, he said.

In a second phone call later that day the caller gave the number of the office that was occupied by Theron as the place where the fine had to be paid, the witness said.

Theron is denying that she had made such phone calls, Joseph told the witness during cross-examination.

The witness also testified that he and his colleague made a photocopy of the five N$200 notes that were to be used to pay the supposed fine before his colleague went to Theron’s office. After the colleague had left Theron’s office, other police officers went into the office and retrieved the money. Theron was then arrested.

Joseph said that according to Theron the person who visited her office seemed unable to communicate properly in English, and she sent him out of her office to get an interpreter to assist him.

She is also saying that the person simply placed the traffic ticket with N$1 000 attached to it on her desk, and is saying that the investigation and the trap were not fair because one of the police officers is a relative of the senior magistrate who first asked the police to launch an investigation, Joseph said.

Theron’s trial was postponed after the witness completed his testimony on Friday. The trial is scheduled to continue from 19 to 30 January next year.

Theron is on bail.

Source : The Namibian