Witness put off by American’s ‘Disney money’ remark

ONE of the American citizens accused of murdering a young man in Windhoek in 2011 did not leave a good impression with a cellphone company employee when he referred to Namibian bank notes as “Disney money”.

Testifying in the Windhoek High Court this week, former MTC employee Glenn English told judge Christie Liebenberg that as a patriotic Namibian he felt offended when the American Marcus Thomas said Namibian currency looked like “Disney money”.

English said Thomas made this remark while paying for two cellphone starter packs at an MTC shop at Maerua Mall in Windhoek on 29 December 2010.

He said he presumed Thomas made the remark because of the colourfulness of Namibian bank notes. However, he found it offensive also because of a condescending tone he detected in Thomas’ voice, English said.

He further told the judge that Thomas was at the MTC shop in the company of his co-accused, fellow American Kevan Townsend, who, according to English, introduced himself as ‘Cash’.

English recalled that he noticed Townsend’s tattoos, and that he had a brief conversation with Townsend about that.

Thomas paid for the two cellphone starter packs, which provided him with two cellphone numbers ending in the digits 4153 and 4154, respectively, English said.

Thomas (36) and Townsend (35) are being prosecuted in connection with the killing of a Namibian citizen, Andre Heckmair (25), in Windhoek on 7 January 2011.

Heckmair was found dead with a gunshot wound to his head in a car after he had gone to meet people he referred to as “American friends” for a lunch appointment, the court heard when Heckmair’s mother testified in October last year.

The state is alleging that Thomas and Townsend travelled from the United States to Namibia in December 2010 to carry out a plan to kill Heckmair, who lived in New York while on an internship in the United States for some seven months during 2010.

The two men are denying guilt on all of the six charges – including counts of murder, possession of a firearm and ammunition without a licence and the importation of firearm parts into Namibia without a permit – on which they are being tried.

In other testimony heard this week, the owner of Cardboard Box Backpackers hostel in Windhoek, Chad Wratten, told the judge yesterday that Thomas booked a room at his establishment in December 2010 and enquired about getting packages delivered there as well.

A former receptionist at the lodge, Boncetta Gaingos, also testified that Thomas and Townsend booked in at Cardboard Box on 27 December 2010 and that Thomas talked about receiving a parcel there.

Gaingos said she asked Wratten about a package for Thomas, but he said he had not seen any item delivered for the American.

Although Thomas booked a room until around 9 January 2011, he and Townsend left Cardboard Box after only one night, Wratten and Gaingos recounted.

During his cross-examination of the two witnesses, Townsend’s defence lawyer, Mbanga Siyomunji, disputed that Townsend had been at Cardboard Box as testified by them.

Gaingos and Wratten both stuck to their testimony that they had seen both Thomas and Townsend at the backpackers lodge.

The trial is continuing.

Thomas and Townsend have been held in custody since their arrest on 7 January 2011.

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