Rhino poaching suspect appears before court at Otavi

A 40-year-old accused man in a rhino poaching and alleged gunfire exchange with the police outside Otavi on Sunday, appeared in the Otavi Magistrate's Court on Tuesday.

Joseph Ngoma appeared before the Otavi Magistrate, McLean Handjamba on Tuesday morning.

Handjamba explained to Ngoma his legal right to engage a private lawyer; apply for a State funded lawyer through the Ministry of Justice's Legal Aid Directorate or defend himself in court.

Ngoma then opted to engage the legal services of his private lawyer.

His case was then postponed to 19 November 2019 for further police investigations and also to allow him ample time to acquire the legal representation.

Ngoma was remanded in police custody at Otavi, but he was informed that if he so wish to be released on bail, can file to court a bail application.

Public prosecutor, Sarah Kandume represented the State in the matter.

Ngoma faces a charge of hunting a specially protected rhino which was allegedly shot and killed in the Etosha National Park on unknown date and time.

He also faces changes of possession of a rhino horn, unlicensed gun and its ammunition and attempted murder for firing at the police officers in uniforms.

Ngoma allegedly exchanged gunfire with a team of 15 police officers and members of the Namibian Defence Force (NDF) for nearly two-hours on a farm outside Otavi.

The Otjozondjupa Regional Crime Investigations Coordinator, Deputy Commissioner Naukalemo Andreas in an interview with Nampa on Monday said the gunfire exchange had started at about 12h00 on Sunday afternoon until 14h00 at the time Ngoma allegedly abandoned his 375 hunting rifle he was using.

Andreas said Ngoma on Sunday at about 12h00 was spotted walking on Farm Streben, situated about 40 kilometres southwest of Otavi.

It is alleged at that time Ngoma was armed with a hunting rifle and two butcher knives.

The farmworkers who saw him first on the farm alerted the police at Otavi, who then also called in for reinforcement of the police officers from the Kombat Police Station.

Their joint police team then followed the suspect's footprints on the farm.

At a distance, Ngoma spotted the police and opened fire in their direction, said Andreas.

The police officers also fired back and the exchange of gunfire lasted for about two-hours until Ngoma had allegedly dropped his gun, a piece of a rhino horn and fled on foot, Andreas said.

The suspect continued running with a plan to escape on foot inside Farm Streben, but the police called in an NDF helicopter which joined them in pursuit of Ngoma.

At about 23h00 on Sunday night Ngoma was arrested and another piece of a rhino horn, two knives, ammunitions and water container were found with him on Farm Marula situated adjacent Streben.

Andreas said no injuries were recorded in this gunfire exchange.

Source: Namibia Press Agency