American’s lawyer claims police planted evidence

Marcus Thomas

Police officers planted evidence – including two firearm barrels and a gun silencer – in the guest house room of two Americans accused of murdering a young man in Windhoek near the start of 2011, a defence lawyer claimed in the Windhoek High Court this week.

The purpose of a visit that police investigator Felix Ndikoma and a colleague paid on 9 January 2011 to the guest house where Americans Marcus Thomas and Kevan Townsend stayed in Windhoek was not to collect the two men’s belongings as had been testified, but to plant evidence implicating them, Townsend’s defence lawyer, Mbanga Siyomunji, told Ndikoma while cross-examining him on Monday.

Denying this accusation, Ndikoma said he had no agenda to plant evidence in the two men’s room.

Siyomunji also charged yesterday that Ndikoma and a colleague, deputy commissioner Barry de Klerk, planted two firearm barrels and a gun silencer in the men’s room. Ndikoma denied this accusation as well.

Thomas (37) and Townsend (37) are standing trial in connection with the killing of a 25-year-old man, Andre Heckmair, who died when he was shot in the head in a car in Klein Windhoek on 7 January 2011.

The state is alleging that Thomas and Townsend had travelled from the United States to Namibia in late December 2010 to carry out a plan to kill Heckmair, who had lived and worked in New York City during 2010.

Thomas and Townsend, who were arrested on the evening of 7 January 2011 at the guest house where they were staying in Windhoek West, are denying guilt on six charges, including counts of murder and possession of a firearm and ammunition without a licence.

Their trial started before judge Christie Liebenberg in November 2014, and has been marked by several delays since then.

Ndikoma returned to the witness stand when the trial resumed on Monday, after a five-month adjournment. Ndikoma began to testify near the end of September last year, and also gave evidence in early October and November.

Kevin Townsend

He has now been on the witness stand for 14 days.

During his cross-examination yesterday, Siyomunji told Ndikoma the firearm barrels that he said had been found in the guest house room on 9 January 2011 had been planted there, and that was the reason why the barrels had not been discovered when Thomas and Townsend were arrested two days earlier.

Ndikoma denied that the barrels were planted in the room. He said when he first saw the barrels he did not immediately realise what it was, as he had not seen such firearm replacement parts before.

He also denied a claim by Siyomunji that a firearm sound suppressor, which according to Ndikoma was discovered hidden in a metal desk leg that was in the men’s room, had been planted in the room as well.

Ndikoma noted that police investigators also found a customs document that showed Townsend received the desk leg in Namibia, after it had been sent from Finland.

Witnesses who testified earlier in the trial recounted that Thomas and Townsend had two firearm barrels – described as “silver pipes” – in their possession while they were looking for a 9mm pistol to buy in Windhoek in early January 2011.

The witnesses told the court they could not get hold of a 9mm pistol, and instead sold a 7,65mm pistol to the two men.

The court has also heard that a 7,65mm projectile was recovered from Heckmair’s neck during a post-mortem examination.

The firearm barrels and gun silencer found in the two Americans’ room were new and had not been used, a firearms expert has told the court, Siyomunji reminded Ndikoma this week.

Prompted by Siyomunji, Ndikoma agreed that if the gun parts were new, they could not be linked to the murder of Heckmair.
The trial is continuing.

Both accused are being held in custody.

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