Never took part in secession politics: Tubaundule

WINDHOEK: A former school principal found guilty on high treason charges said he never took part in any political activity aimed to secede the then Caprivi (now Zambezi) Region from the rest of Namibia.

The 57-year-old Martin Siano Tubaundule told presiding High Court Judge Elton Hoff on Thursday in his evidence in mitigation of sentencing that he had never taken in any kind of political activity or attended any kind of secret information-sharing meeting or gathering in which the ideas to secede the region from the rest of Namibia was discussed between 1998 and 1999.

He told the court that he only fled from Namibia to neighboring Botswana on 16 December 1998 after he was subjected to constant physical harassment and threats at the hands of the members of the Namibian law-enforcement units and security forces.

‘This is the only reason why I fled from Namibia to neighboring Botswana. I did not flee from Namibia to Botswana because I was involved in the political activities with the aims to secede the Caprivi Region from the rest of Namibia, ‘ Tubaundule told the court.

According to Tubaundule, upon arriving in Botswana, he was immediately introduced to the United Democratic Party (UDP) leader Mishake Muyongo at the Kasiona refugee reception centre in Botswana and his name was, thereafter, co-opted as a member of the executive committee of the now-banned political organisation (UDP) for reasons only known to Muyongo himself.

‘Although my name was put on the list of the executive committee members of the United Democratic Party, I have never took part in any political activity with the aims to secede the Caprivi Region from the rest of Namibia before I fled to Botswana due to constant harassment and threats at the hands of the Namibian security forces, ‘ explained Tubaundule.

However, on 17 June 199, Tubaundule together with others fled from Botswana to Zambia where he was unlawful abducted by the Namibian security forces and brought back home (Namibia) to face prosecution on charges of high treason and other related charges.

‘The Namibian law-enforcement units and security forces had abducted me from Zambia and brought me back to Namibia without following proper international procedures and laws in connection with the deportation of persons. I was abducted from Zambia while I was awaiting the approval of my application for refugee status in that country. My abduction by the Namibian security forces was a pure violation of the international laws by the Namibian authorities, ‘ noted Tubaundule.

The former school principal will face stiff cross-examination by Deputy Prosecutor-General Taswald July on Friday morning.

Tubaundule is being represented by Government-funded defense lawyer Ilse Agenbach.

Other State-sponsored defense lawyers are- Patrick Kauta, George Neves, Clive Kavendjii, Profysen Muluti, Jonathan Samukange, Victor Kachaka, Percy McNally and Hennie Kruger.

Meanwhile, all these defense lawyers opted not to call any of their convicted clients to give evidence in mitigation of sentencing.

On 14 September this year, 30 men, including former member of the NA Geoffrey Mwilima, were all found guilty on a charge of high treason and other related charges in connection with a failed attempt to secede the then Caprivi Region from the rest of Namibia.

On the same day, Judge Hoff acquitted and released another 35 men after the State failed to prove their involvement beyond a reasonable doubt in the failed plot to secede the region from the rest of the country.

The 30 convicted men each face 278 charges, including a count of high treason, nine charges of murder and 240 counts of attempted murder in connection with the failed secession attempts.

All of them remain in custody at the Windhoek Correctional Facility (former Windhoek Central Prison)’s holding cells until Friday for the continuation of the process of sentencing.

State-appointed defense lawyers Kauta, Agenbach, Neves, Kavendjii, Muluti, Samukange, Kachaka, McNally and Kruger are representing the convicted men on the instructions of the Justice Ministry’s Directorate of Legal Aid.

Deputy Prosecutor-General July, assisted by State Advocate Amize Adams, is representing the prosecution.

The 30 convicted men were separately charged with taking part in the attacks at Katima Mulilo, or providing support to the so-called Caprivi Liberation Army (CLA).

The convicts took part in the bloody attacks on the Katima Mulilo Police Station; the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation’s (NBC) regional office; Wenela Border Post; and Mpacha Military Base and Airport.

They were said to have been under the leadership of Muyongo.

Muyongo and many other alleged leaders of the CLA fled to neighboring Botswana before the attacks and after the Namibian security forces discovered their underground movement before enforcing tightened security measures in the Caprivi Region.

Muyongo and Mafwe Chief Boniface Mamili are now exiled in Denmark after Namibia pressured Botswana to send them back home to stand trial.