Teko Bid for Judge’s Recusal Fails

Judge Maphios Cheda on Friday dismissed an application by Teckla Lameck, Jerobeam Kongo Mokaxwa and Chinese citizen Yang Fan to recuse himself from their trial for alleged bias.

Lameck, Mokaxwa and Yang made the application after they failed to have certain bank records declared inadmissible.

Judge Cheda in June this year dismissed the application and ordered the records admissible.

It was on this ruling that they staked their application for the judge’s recusal.

They also applied that the proceedings so far in the trial be quashed and the trial to start afresh before another judge.

In the application for the recusal of Judge Cheda, Lameck submitted an affidavit in which she questioned the judge’s bias.

She said that while their objection was against the summonses used to obtain the financial information, the judge ruled on warrants issued by a magistrate.

According to Lameck, the State never led any evidence on the warrants and as such they never had an opportunity to object to the validity of such warrants.

The only issue Judge Cheda had to decide upon was the validity of the summonses issued by Director of the Anti-Corruption Commission, Paulus Noa, which he failed to do, Lameck charged.

She says that it was clear that what was challenged during the proceedings so far was the admissibility of the summonses and not the search warrants and the judge’s ruling pre-empted their future objection to the search warrants and thus constituted a real possibility of unfair bias.

In his ruling Judge Cheda said that while the issue at stake was the objection to summonses and not the search and seizure warrants issued by a magistrate, the defence already in their plea explanations indicated their intent to object to the warrants.

“A mere apprehension of bias is not enough,” the judge said and continued that the State would be severely prejudiced if he stepped down from the trial.

He said that 20 of the eighty witnesses the State intended to call already testified and to recall them now would be an immense task.

He further said that the issue of the warrants or summonses was not what would determine guilt or otherwise, but the full evidence to be provided to the court.

He said the arguments forwarded by the defence did not meet the requirements to prove bias and a mere apprehension of bias would not suffice.

The case will now continue on January 30 next year when Aocate Raymond Heathcote will indicate whether his clients will appeal the judgment.

The State is represented by Aocate Jack Eixab, assisted by State Aocate Shakwa Nyambe.

Lameck, Mokaxwa and Yang are accused of duping government through the Ministry of Finance to pay an inflated price of US$55 348 800 for scanners to be used at airports and border posts. They are also accused of defrauding the Swapo owned company where they worked with at least US$144 000 for the purchase of four tipper trucks. The State is alleging that that the trio defrauded government and Swapo company Namib Contract Haulage big time.

In fact, the State alleges, the price was inflated with an amount of US$12 828 800 meant as ‘commission’ for Teko Trading which facilitated the transaction.

Source : New Era