The trial of three Zimbabwean citizens accused of murdering a nine-year-old girl in Windhoek four years ago failed to start as scheduled yesterday, after the defence lawyer representing one of the accused withdrew from the case.
The trial of married couple Edward Nkata (40) and Caroline Nkata (39) and fellow Zimbabwean Rachael Kureva (41) was due to begin before judge Philanda Christiaan in the Windhoek High Court, but did not get going due to the withdrawal of defence lawyer Janita von Wielligh, who has been representing Kureva since July last year.
Von Wielligh informed the judge that Kureva instructed her to withdraw from the case. Kureva added that she gave that instruction because she did not have trust in Von Wielligh and was not satisfied with the way she handled the case.
Kureva also said she has been in contact with the Directorate of Legal Aid to have another lawyer instructed to represent her.
Christiaan postponed the case to Friday, for the court to be informed if Kureva has been provided legal representation again.
Kureva and the Nkata couple are accused of murdering Kureva’s daughter Natalie Chipomho, who was nine years old, in Windhoek between 23 and 25 January 2020.
The state is alleging that Natalie was assaulted at a flat in the Rhino Park area of Windhoek, where she lived with her mother, the Nkata couple and the couple’s children, during the period from September to December 2019 and that no medical assistance was given to her, despite her having visible injuries as a result of the alleged assaults. The state is also alleging that after the assault in which she was fatally injured, she was placed in a plastic tub in an unconscious state and left to die in a garage at the flat. After Natalie’s death, her body was removed from the flat, dumped in a rubbish skip nearby and set alight, it is alleged as well.
When the police investigated the discovery of her burnt remains, the accused informed police officers that Natalie was in Zimbabwe with her father or at another residence in Windhoek, the state is also alleging. Kureva was employed as a nurse at the time of the alleged assaults and left the day-to-day supervision of Natalie in the hands of the Nkata couple, the state says in the indictment setting out the charges against the three accused.
The Nkata couple and Kureva are due to be prosecuted on 10 charges, including counts of murder, attempted murder, defeating or obstructing the course of justice, failing to provide adequate medical assistance, assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, fraud and forgery.
The state is alleging that, in addition to the assaults on Natalie, they also assaulted an 11-year-old boy during the period from September 2019 to January 2020.
The Nkatas alone are further accused of contravening the Immigration Control Act by remaining in Namibia after an employment permit that authorised their stay in the country expired in June 2019.
The couple were arrested in the Otjiwarongo area on 26 January 2020, after they had left Windhoek by car with their children. The three accused are all being held in custody.
Defence lawyers Milton Engelbrecht and Mbanga Siyomunji are representing Caroline and Edward Nkata, respectively.
State advocate Ethel Ndlovu is representing the prosecution.
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