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Another ‘Shanghala amendment’ questioned …the judiciary is under siege, says Muharukua

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Amendments to the Criminal Procedure Act aimed at improving Namibia’s criminal justice system may have far-reaching implications, compromising institutions whose integrity they ought to protect.Vipuakuje Muharukua of the Popular Democratic Movement (PD…

Amendments to the Criminal Procedure Act aimed at improving Namibia’s criminal justice system may have far-reaching implications, compromising institutions whose integrity they ought to protect.

Vipuakuje Muharukua of the Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) advanced this position inside and outside the National Assembly after Justice Minister Yvonne Dausab tabled the draft Bill on Wednesday.

The Bill, according to Muharukua, cannot be trusted as it forms part of a barrage of reforms spearheaded by Dausab’s corruption-accused predecessor, Sacky Shanghala.

According to Muharukua, Shanghala may have foreseen his fate at the time of formulating the amendments in question.

The Bill aims to make provision for a prosecutor and an accused person in a criminal case to enter into a plea and sentence.

This Bill, if enacted, will be applicable to Shanghala and his co-accused in the Fishrot scandal.

“It’s true that plea bargaining expedites procedures. But we must also make sure that it is devoid of any malpractices,” Muharukua said.

He said a finer analysis into the details of the proposed changes to the law raises eyebrows.

“We must make sure that when we use these instruments, it does not compromise our legal system,” Muharukua said.

He further stated that Parliament must not be used to pass laws that are sinister in nature.

“We have learned with hindsight, and the Fisheries Act is one of those examples that when the Cabinet brought these bills to Parliament, they had ulterior motives, giving the minister [of fisheries] the power to be able to do what they wanted to be done which was to steal N.dollars 2 billion,” he charged.

What also concerns Muhurukua is that if passed in its current format, the Act will empower the “Prosecutor-General and justice minister in consultation with the Attorney-General to craft the rules on how this plea bargaining is going to work.”

This will place the PG ahead of the Chief Justice as the most powerful person in the judiciary.

Inside the chambers, works minister John Mutorwa agreed, saying lawmakers must be given adequate time to study the Bill.

Tabling the Bill, Dausab said the amendments were borne out of an upsurge in organised crime.

“[Amendments] will aid us in prosecuting those responsible for organised crime and enable us to also deal with such cases in a speedy and efficient manner.”

Source: Namibia Press Agency