Gobabis Magistrate recuses self from Kazeurua case

GOBABIS: The presiding officer in the matter relating to the death of Aminuis anti-stock theft activist Hiambepo ‘Major’ Kazeurua on Wednesday yielded to pressure from the prosecution and recused himself from hearing the case.

Gobabis Magistrate Lourens Pretorius, who has been hearing the matter since its inception, was asked to recuse himself from the matter by the prosecution on account that he was allegedly hostile towards State witnesses, amongst other reasons given.

The court was busy with a bail application by one of the accused in the matter, Stockley ‘Mbaruu’ Kauejao, 39, who brought a second application for bail on new grounds when the application for recusal was brought forward by the State.

Kauejao, the main accused in the matter, two weeks ago brought a second bail application before the magistrate’s court on the grounds of alleged psychological problems he has encountered due to his long detention at the Gobabis prison.

Control Prosecutor Johan Pienaar said the presiding officer was hostile in examining State witnesses during the procession of the bail hearing, allegedly making it clear that it was biased against the State.

He noted that questions to the State witnesses from the court were put forward in an aggressive manner, which intimidated the witnesses before court.

The State’s main motivation for the application for recusal stemmed from a heated exchange of words between the presiding officer and the Namibian Police Force (NamPol)’s Regional Commander for Omaheke, Commissioner Josephat Abel during the last bail hearing.

Abel was a State witness on that occasion.

Although the court dismissed most of the State’s assertions as baseless and without evidence to support the application for recusal, it however yielded to one fact put forward by the State – that which concerned the tone of voice used by the magistrate against Abel.

Pretorius conceded that he allowed himself to be overcome by his emotions, which resulted in him raising his voice against the witness – something which does not befit his position.

“I am ashamed to say the tone of my voice was not befitting. Although the tone of voice cannot constitute biasness, it was nonetheless wrong of me to raise my voice against the witness,” he stated.

The matter will now be heard by Magistrate Victor Nyazo, who in turn postponed the bail hearing to 03 and 04 March.

Meanwhile, the main case – other than the bail hearing – which was postponed for a decision by the Prosecutor-General on where the matter will most likely be tried, will resume on 31 January.

Kauejao was represented by Orben Sibeya.