Fugitive Derails Murder Trial

Paulus Mwengo who has evaded re-capture by the Namibian Police was the main reason the State withdrew murder and robbery charges against his two co-accused.

Johannes Khoaseb and Constans Swartbooi finally tasted freedom on Friday after spending almost five years behind bars after Deputy Prosecutor General, Antonia Verhoef, told Judge Alfred Siboleka the State did not wish to proceed with the trial in the absence of Mwengo, who escaped from custody in Karibib in mid-2010. The two accused could however be re-summoned if Mwengo – who is believed to be hiding in a neighbouring country – is ever re-arrested.

Judge Siboleka wanted to know from Verhoef why Mwengo was in the first place granted bail, but after Verhoef informed him that Mwengo escaped from police custody, he said: “I would love to know what happened to the police officers that let the accused escape, he could be out there committing other crimes.”

Mwengo, Khoaseb and Swartbooi were accused of attacking the 89-year-old Charlotte Jooste and her employee, Selma Kavari, during an armed robbery at the farm Riksburg in the Karibib district on November 7, 2009.

Jooste, who was assaulted during the robbery, succumbed to her injuries in the Roman Catholic Hospital in Windhoek.

Thee trio were charged with murder and attempted murder, alternatively contravening Section 38(1) (I) read with sections 1, 10, 38 and 39 of the Arms and Ammunitions Act, 7 of 1996, negligent discharge or handling of a firearm, robbery with aggravating circumstances, possession of a firearm without a licence and possession of ammunition.

The indictment read that the accused unlawfully and intentionally killed Jooste by hitting andor kicking her with the result that she died from the injuries sustained and that they unlawfully and intentionally attempted to kill Johannes Hamutenya by firing shots at him.

It further alleged the trio stole from Jooste and Kavari a pair of socks, a pair of shoes, an unknown amount of tobacco and some corn.

According to the charge sheet, the accused entered the farm Riksburg near Karibib armed with a loaded rifle, a loaded pistol and various knives. At or near the main residence they encountered Kavari and the deceased and assaulted them demanding the keys to a safe.

It is further alleged when Hamutenya investigated the commotion the accused fired at him with the rifle andor pistol. They then ransacked the residence and stole the items listed.

The State alleges all three accused acted with a common purpose at all times.

Willem Visser and Aocate Winnie Christiaans represented them on instructions of the Legal Aid Department. The two defence counsel repeatedly during the pre-trial hearings lamented that the police’s failure to re-arrest Mwengo prejudiced their clients.

Source : New Era