Ministry of Justice

Query: Concern was raised about the operations of the public prosecutors in Swakopmund, Windhoek and Ondangwa magistrates' courts respectively. Another issue raised was that prosecutors and magistrates are treating trial-awaiting prisoners unfairly by leaving them languishing in custody without bail being granted.

Response: The Ministry of Justice and especially its professional staff such as prosecutors will never intentionally violate any person's rights including of those people suspected to have committed crimes and are now kept in custody while investigation into their matters and or their matters are being concluded. The Ministry urges that bail is the beginning of justice in the criminal justice system. The state, which is represented by the prosecutor in court, would in certain instances where grounds exist oppose bail for the accused person and such accused would have the right to bring a formal bail application. The grounds upon which the state may oppose bail may include, among others, the risk of absconding, possible interference with state witness and or police investigations, risk of committing further offences and endangering the maintenance of law and order or public safety or national security, and public interest or the administration of justice.

The public has to keep in mind that our rights are conditional, and there are exceptions! For instance any one that violates another person's rights may be arrested on grounds of them being presumed as suspects and may be kept in custody until their case is finalized in a court of law as stipulated in Article 12 of our constitution. It follows therefore that an accused can be arrested and detained, thus depriving them of their rights on condition that it is done in accordance with the law. An accused does not have the right to bail but only has the right to apply for bail � whether or not bail will subsequently be granted is another question. The state, through the prosecutor, has a duty to inform the court of the grounds upon which the state opposes bail from which the court will deliberate the merits and determine if the suspect can be granted or not granted bail based on those reasons.

The SMS which related to Walter Haseb and Ivonne Nande being granted bail though the prosecutor opposed them being granted bail, this is what happened: After the state refused them to be granted bail, the accused made a formal bail application, presenting reasons why they deserve to be granted bail, upon which a full bail enquiry was conducted. The applicants, based on the merit of their case, were found having no reasons why they should not be given bail and they were subsequently given bail.

The Ministry appreciates and welcomes the public for raising their opinions regarding our services, as this well complements our value of transparency. We however wish to notify our clients that should they have concerns or opinions or recommendations regarding our services, there are other faster and efficient channels of communicating such views to our offices which will prevent delays which may be created by raising such concerns through the SMS page of daily print media.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia