Lubowski Case in Dead End

THE case about the assassination of lawyer and prominent Swapo member Anton Lubowski 25 years ago, has reached a dead end in Namibia, says Prosecutor General Martha Imalwa.

No prosecution of the people suspected of having been involved in the murder of Lubowski will be taking place in Namibia with the evidence currently available to the country’s prosecuting authority, Imalwa told The Namibian in an interview yesterday.

“There is actually no evidence which the State, the Namibian prosecution, currently could use to prosecute those who were allegedly involved,” she said. “At the moment there is no evidence on which we could prosecute successfully.”

It would take credible new evidence coming to light for her to reopen the case about the murder of Lubowski, but until that has happened, “I consider that chapter closed”, Imalwa said. “For me to reopen the file I should have new evidence, which is not there.”

Imalwa added that she had no doubts that Lubowski was killed by agents of a secret unit in the South African military, the Civil Cooperation Bureau (CCB), which was responsible for the murder, attempted murder and harassment of various people who were regarded as enemies of the white-ruled South African regime.

However, in her opinion, Lubowski’s death was not properly investigated at the time, she said. It should not be forgotten that the administration of Namibia was still in South African hands at the time he was killed, she said.

Lubowski was assassinated when he was gunned down in front of his house in Windhoek on the evening of 12 September 1989. He was 37 years old, and the deputy head of Swapo’s elections directorate at that stage.

On the next day, a 52-year-old Irish citizen, Donald Acheson, was arrested in Windhoek in connection with the murder.

Acheson was charged and made a number of court appearances until his case was transferred to the then South West Africa Supreme Court. He was granted bail during an appearance in that court in April 1990, but chose not to pay the bail amount of R4 000 and to remain in custody instead.

By 7 May 1990, when Acheson made his next court appearance, Namibia’s first Prosecutor General, Hans Heyman, requested a further postponement of the case to be given more time to try to get two additional suspects, CCB members Leon Andreacute (‘Chappies’) Maree and Danieumll (‘Staal’) Burger, who were in South Africa, arrested and sent to Namibia to stand trial with Acheson. Heyman also wanted more time to try to secure the presence of witnesses who were also in South Africa but appeared to be reluctant to testify in a trial in Namibia.

When the presiding judge refused to grant the prosecution a postponement, Heyman withdrew the charge against Acheson. That was the end of the prosecution of anybody in connection with the Lubowski assassination.

Heyman subsequently frequently expressed the opinion that Acheson was not the actual assassin responsible for the murder of Lubowski, but was used as a decoy to cover the tracks of the killer or killers.

Imalwa said yesterday that having gone through the police docket on the murder of Lubowski it was her opinion, too, that Lubowski was not murdered by Acheson, but that the Irishman had been used as a cover by the actual killer or killers.


An inquest into the death of Lubowski ended in June 1994 with a finding by High Court Judge Harold Levy that the available evidence indicated that Acheson murdered Lubowski and that the CCB initiated and was involved in the murder as part of an attempt to destabilise Namibia and disrupt the country’s independence elections in late 1989.

Judge Levy also found that the evidence provided to him indicated that CCB members ‘Chappies’ Maree, ‘Staal’ Burger, Ferdinand (‘Ferdi’) Barnard, Abram (‘Slang’) van Zyl, Carl (‘Calla’) Botha, Wouter Basson and Johan Niemoller, as well as the head of the CCB, Pieter Johan (‘Joe’) Verster, were accomplices involved in the murder.

South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) came to a similar conclusion in its report in October 1998, in which it was stated: “The commission believes there are no grounds to contradict Judge Levy’s general finding pertaining to the involvement of the CCB and its responsibility for the conspiracy that led to this killing.”

However, the TRC also expressed reservations about Judge Levy’s finding that Acheson was the assassin. In its report it was stated that the TRC’s investigation suggested that, although Acheson may have been the intended killer and was certainly in the vehicle used for the operation – but probably was driving the rented car – “the fatal shots may have been fired by a passenger, who was probably his CCB handler for this operation”.


Lubowski’s former wife, Gaby Lubowski, charged in an email message to The Namibian late last week that the 1994 inquest was “the epitome of lies and deceit”, that the inquest findings were made up and had no relation to the evidence or facts placed before the judge, and that the case was also “swept under the carpet” during the TRC process.

Mrs Lubowski, who is living in Cape Town, also commented that the South African authorities waited for 20 years to pass after the assassination, “with the pretence of investigating”, only to then close the case in that country since a charge of conspiracy to commit murder, which could have been pursued in South Africa, prescribes after 20 years.

She stated: “We have followed every avenue available to us to have this case solved. We have just found closed doors. There is no one, not one, who is willing to solve this case.”

In an affidavit that Acheson made in South Africa in January 1991 he confirmed that he had been recruited by Barnard into an organisation that he later learned was the CCB. While he denied having carried out the assassination of Lubowski, Acheson related that he was deployed to Namibia during 1989 and that one of his tasks was to kill the then editor of The Namibian, Gwen Lister, by poisoning her. However, that plan failed when he was unable to get access to her household.

Acheson stated that Maree was his contact person in the CCB.

One of the affidavits considered by Judge Levy during the inquest was made by ‘Slang’ van Zyl. In that statement he said he attended a meeting at a Johannesburg hotel with Burger, Maree, Botha and Basson on 1 September 1989, and that Maree told him that the meeting was about a “project” concerning Lubowski. However, he was ordered out of the room and could not say anything further about the meeting, he said.

South African investigative journalists and authors Max du Preez and Jacques Pauw have both written that the decision to assassinate Lubowski was taken at the meeting on 1 September 1989. They have also reported that Burger flew to Windhoek under a false name on 12 September 1989 and flew out again the next day, while Maree was in Windhoek at that time.

In his inquest findings Judge Levy identified Maree as Acheson’s handler in the CCB.

Source : The Namibian