Teko trio’s application for judge’s recusal dismissed

WINDHOEK; An application for the recusal of a judge by three people being tried for alleged fraud committed at the Ministry of Finance in 2009, has been dismissed.

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

Cheda is originally from Zimbabwe.

The trio’s application was dismissed in a judgment handed down by Judge Cheda himself in the High Court here on Friday.

“The three applicants did not provide reasonable and credible evidence (grounds) before court that would allow a presiding officer to recuse himself or herself from continuing to preside over the trial of their alleged fraud and corruption case.

I have nothing against the three applicants, and their conviction or innocence has nothing to do with me. Their conviction or innocence only depend on the credibility of the evidence that will be provided by the State,” said Cheda.

Meanwhile, the applicants’ defence lawyer, Advocate Raymond Heathcote (SC), said he will first carefully study the content of the judgment before he seeks further instructions from his clients on the possibility of appealing against the verdict.

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

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

The dismissed application comes 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.

Prosecution representative, State Advocate Jack Eixab also strongly objected to the applicants’ submissions by saying that their application did not 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.

About 20 people out of a total of over 80 witnesses have already testified in this trial on behalf of the State.

The trio’s trial will resume before court on 30 January 2015 in order to allow the defence team enough time to decide in respect of today’s dismissed application.