Treason accused found not guiltyBy: WERNER MENGES
THIRTEEN years after being arrested as one of the suspects in the Caprivi high treason case, Rodwell Kasika Mukendwa heard on Friday that he has been found not guilty on all charges he had been facing.
In a surprise development in the main Caprivi high treason trial in the High Court at Windhoek Central Prison, Mukendwa was acquitted - and regained the freedom he lost with his arrest on August 26 1999 - after the prosecution in the trial conceded that it has not proven any of the charges against him.
Mukendwa (68) is the first of the men facing charges in the main treason trial to be found not guilty. He was designated as Accused 106 in the trial, in which a remaining 110 suspects continue to face 278 charges, including counts of high treason, sedition, murder, and attempted murder in connection with an alleged conspiracy to secede the Caprivi Region from Namibia.
After 13 years in custody, and almost nine years on trial, the end of the prosecution of Mukendwa took barely ten minutes to be finalised.
“Mr Rodwell Kasika Mukendwa, you are accordingly found not guilty in respect of all charges preferred against you,” Judge Elton Hoff told Mukendwa at the close of a short judgement which followed on addresses by Deputy Prosecutor General Herman January, the leader of the prosecution team in the trial, and Mukendwa’s defence lawyer, Victor Kachaka.
Mukendwa was overjoyed after hearing that he was on his way back home following such a long time in prison.
January informed the judge that after the prosecution team evaluated the evidence it has presented during the trial it was their view that no evidence on which Mukendwa might be convicted had been presented to the court.
Because of this, the prosecution asked the judge to convene the court for a special session on Friday.
January told the judge there were five potential prosecution witnesses who, according to the witness statements they had made, implicated Mukendwa.
One of these witnesses died before he could testify, another witness turned hostile against the prosecution when he was consulted before he was due to testify, and the other three witnesses did not mention Mukendwa in their testimony when they gave evidence in the trial, January said.
The allegations which were made against Mukendwa were that he had helped transport members of a separatist movement in the Caprivi Region to Botswana, and that he had also provided transport to some of the armed secessionists who carried out surprise attacks at Katima Mulilo on August 2 1999, January told The Namibian after the court proceedings.
It was further alleged that Mukendwa had attended meetings where the secession of the Caprivi Region from Namibia was discussed, and that he had addressed one of these meetings.
The trial of the remaining 110 accused is scheduled to continue from September 3, when Judge Hoff is supposed to start hearing arguments on a defence application to have the accused persons found not guilty at the close of the prosecution’s case.
The State closed its case on February 7, after the testimony of its 379th witness in the main part of the trial had been concluded.