Ruling on judge’s recusal from Teko trial set for Friday

WINDHOEK; An application for the recusal of a judge by three people being tried for alleged fraud committed at the Ministry of Finance, will be settled in the High Court here on Friday.

Namibians Teckla Lameck, 48, and Jerobeam Mokaxwa, 30, as well as Chinese national Yang Fan, 39, all want acting High Court Judge Maphios Cheda to abstain from participating in their fraud and corruption trial.

Cheda is originally from Zimbabwe.

On 20 August this year, the judge reserved judgment on the recusal application, saying he will hand down the verdict on 14 November this year.

This was done after the judge listened to submissions and counter-arguments by both the applicants’ defence lawyer, Advocate Raymond Heathcote (SC) and State Advocate Jack Eixab.

In his submissions at the time, Heathcote asked the judge not to take the move by the three applicants as personal attacks on his integrity and credibility to preside over the trial.

In the application, the three suspects raised a number of issues, including the manner in which the presiding judge is allegedly handling the trial, and want the trial to begin afresh.

Heathcote brought the application before Cheda on the instructions of Windhoek-based law firm Sisa Namandje Legal Practitioners.

The application follows after the trio’s defence lawyers Namandje, Advocate Gerson Hinda (SC) and Gerson Narib found out that the State intended leading evidence which had been obtained from their clients pursuant to certain search and seizure warrants and pursuant to certain summonses, which in their view are null and void and render the evidence obtained pursuant to such warrants inadmissible before court.

Meanwhile, Eixab strongly objected to the applicants’ submissions by saying that their application did show credible grounds which would allow the presiding judge to recuse himself.

In the fraud and corruption trial proper, Lameck, a former Public Service Commission (PSC) member; Mokaxwa, who is Lameck’s business partner in the Teko Trading company; as well as Yang are accused of having defrauded the Ministry of Finance of some N.dollars 120 million in 2009 in dubious circumstances.

They have each already denied all allegations set out in the 18 charges of fraud against them when they entered not guilty pleas at the beginning of their trial in April last year.

The two Namibians are free on bail of N.dollars 50 000 each, while Yang is free on bail of N.dollars 1 million.

The three accused persons were arrested on 08 and 09 July 2009 by officials of the Anti-Corruption Commission in connection with the alleged scam through which the Ministry of Finance bought security-scanning equipment from a Chinese company.