The phone’s still not working. Don’t waste your time trying.
Archive for November, 2009
The votes have been cast, and in some cases, lost but the results aren’t in yet although it looks as if SWAPO will retain their hold on power. The squabbling and whatnot has started.
The indelible ink used to mark voters is, according, to opposition parties water soluble.
According to RDP, Swanu and Republican party (RP) the same thing happened in the last elections (held in 2004) and they are demanding the resignation of the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) on grounds of incompetence.
SWAPO is suing the RDP (Rally for Democracy and Change for $N100 million, after the RDP accused SWAPO of rigging previous elections. Three EU election monitors are in hospital after some idiot crashed into their car in Windhoek on Saturday (with fatal consequences for the idiot). The National Society for Human Rights had their observer status canceled, then after appealing, had it restored, then following an ECN counter appeal, had it canceled again. The current President is under fire (if you will excuse the awful pun) for buying a bullet proof armoured Mercedes at the cost of $10 million. He’s saying that he didn’t order it.
A few Vox Pop quotes from The Namibian newspaper’s SMS page:
“Why do we vote with pencils? Is this the case everywhere?”
A point remade by another reader.
“Why do we vote with pencils?”
And another. (Who got to the (pencil) point)!
” On November 27, my wife and I voted at the Walvis Bay Municipal Social Club Hall. We had to use a pencil to make the cross on the ballot paper. My question is, is that legal? Because anybody can wipe it out and change it. Thanks.”
Ed Note: Perhaps they were indelible pencils.
Moving on. Or not. Comments on queues.
“Let Namibia be the light of the dark continent this election of 2009”. A voter in the queue.
“The ECN’s painstakingly slow queue shows that there were flaws in preparations. Queuing for five hours is unnecessary and unacceptable. It’s a sign of irresponsibility.” Another voter in the queue.
“It was the first time I voted and it was a terrible experience! I couldn’t understand why they were so slow.” Another voter in the queue.
“ECN, can you organise a party in a brewery? At 08h30 on Saturday morning, St. Paul’s polling station (Windhoek East) runs out of voting papers! Puleeze.” Juanita
“Congratulations to the Electoral Commision of Namibia, especially the director Mr Moses Ndjarakana. The first day of elections went smoothly without any inteference. Hope the Almighty will keep you longer to direct us again in 2014.”
Ed note: I suspect this one was written and submitted by his mother. The following was probably not!
“Yes to court we go, don’t take this lying down. We are behind you. ECN you can’t fool us all the time. Viva Phil ya Nangoloh and NSHR team.”
I’ll let you know who wins. Not just the elections, but the court cases, fist fights and escalating arguments!
What’s a ‘ping back’? I just blather away on this Blog but have no idea how a Blog works. Is a ping back a good thing?
Or just a ping thing that should be ignored?
Yes ladies and gentlemen, my beloved wife, Midori, is off to Thailand. She left here at 5 AM. I’d forgotten what 5 AM looked like. Having seen it again I remain unimpressed.
Just too damn early.
If anybody tried phoning me over the weekend apologies. The lines here have been down. It’s a Telecom cock up. I’ll fix this tomorrow.
Ronnie, thank for your message! I wished I’d fixed my phone yesterday. Our Monopoly game commenced at 4 PM and was postponed at 7 PM (when I had to take our Kyoto University guest out to dinner) but is set to restart tomorrow morning after I’ve taken our Kyoto University guest to NATIS to renew his license and to a mechanic to re-repair his car. I don’t know what it is is with our Japanese guests. We repair their car, we get it ready, they arrive, take one look at it and something explodes. If something doesn’t explode, they crash it.
I haven’t had a chance to post a meaningful Blog today. I’ve just been too busy doing nothing while trying to do everything. But I can recommend the Klein Windhoek Guest House for dinner.
The roast chicken arrived almost before we’d ordered it!
Bit of a mouthful.
But a great guest house!
I’m now going to steal some Monopoly Money. I’m going to win this sucker!
My wife’s SPAN national parks project picked up Silver in the Hospitality Association (HAN) of Namibia’ s Eco journalism awards. Big gala dinner. I had to wear my jacket and tie again. Big bash, lots of candles, bigwigs and comedians. Tomorrow I will post links to Tourism information and HAN sites.
My last post turned my stomach. And I’ll save the alcohol thing for tomorrow. But to end on a positive note, let me cheer myself up. Jonas, our gardener, rescued a tortoise that was plodding along a busy road. It is currently safe and sound and ignoring its lettuce. My beloved wife and daughter are having a bath, and are happy and having fun. The light is now magnificent! The clouds are a mixture of pink and violent purple and there are still glimpses of blue. Here and there. Birds singing (or throwing insults) crickets in action, bats about.
Shirley is still very ill but we will take care of her. When Midi’s out f the bath she’s hopping on a plane to Bangkok at 5 Am. Great! I lose my wife and get ten days with my daughter!
Oh Gawd! I’ll have to play Monopoly with Annabel every night and the little blister is going to win again and again.
But overall chaps, I’m very happy with my life. And always have been, actually.
My Cottage Pie is probably on fire and a large safari bus is trying to get in.
Hi! Hugh here again! Hope all’s well with you.
Lightning is crackling over the Khomas Hochland, the sky, when it isn’t flaring into life, is a sulky grey. Low clouds. Rain tonight I think! And everybody will welcome it (apart from all the English tourists who have just arrived expecting un-remitting sunshine).
Following up on the Claudia/Leonard post of yesterday, I’m placing two posts. They make for rather depressing reading. They are preliminary drafts of two Issue papers I wrote and researched for UNICEF. The information is slightly dated, incomplete and the full versions are probably available (complete with pictures) on UNICEF Namibia’s website (or,if you are here in Namibia, from the UNICEF office which is near the Hidas Centre off Sam Nujoma Drive. )
I don’t want to paint too bleak a picture of Namibia, Annabel our daughter has always been loved by the people here (spoiled rotten actually!) and none of the stuff you will read affects tourists. It’s more a local thing. But this Blog wants to open closets. And rattle the bones of the skeletons hiding inside.
Then bury them.
So hey ho! Let’s go!
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND CHILDREN.
Although Namibia is a signatory to numerous conventions designed to enshrine and enforce the rights of women and children and although some domestically introduced legislation, for example The Combating of Rape Act, 2000, is arguably some of the most progressive in the world, the country nonetheless faces an epidemic of sexual and domestic violence against women and children that has reached crisis proportions.
And there is every indication that unless preventative and mitigating measures are vigorously instituted, and the flaws in the current social and legal systems are eliminated, the problem has the potential to continue its horrific escalation.
As the number of orphans continues to rise (by 2021 it is predicted that over 250,000, or one in three, Namibian children will be orphans) and family social support structures are disrupted by factors such as HIV-AIDS, more and more young people are becoming vulnerable to abuse and are being subjected not just to a violation of their basic human rights but are also being exposed to potentially lethal Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs).
Despite popular outrage and demonstrations triggered by several recent high profile child murder and rape/mutilation cases the media continues to report the rapes of adults and minors and instances of domestic violence on a daily basis. And there is no indication that the public attention generated by the murders and trials has in any way stemmed the tide of the ongoing violence.
Compounding the problem is that although the “stranger danger” issue unquestionably exists, the overwhelming majority of victims are being hurt by those known personally to them. In more than 60% of reported cases, for example, the complainant and the accused were living in the same household at the time the violence occurred. To take another example, in a recent UNICEF-sponsored survey of 1150 women, 74 (6%) of those who have had children reported that their partners had beaten them during their pregnancies.
Nationwide almost one third (31%) of ever-partnered women have experienced physical violence at the hands of their partners. Other studies variously suggest that between 40% and 70% of all female murder victims are killed by their husbands or boyfriends.
Overall, moreover, violence of any sort in Namibia is overwhelmingly sex-biased with between 80% and 90% of incidents being male upon female.
Rape is also rife. And victims as well as perpetrators are increasingly getting younger. The UNICEF study states that a “staggering number of minors” are involved. This is confirmed by officers of the police and police Women and Child Protection Units who report processing juveniles as young as ten for sexual assault on younger children and even toddlers.
The growth in the number of reported rapes does not necessarily indicate that the number of incidents has risen. The statistics may reflect the increased levels of awareness in society that abused citizens have recourse to the law. This said, most experts are convinced trends are up and it is an undeniable fact that the number of reported rapes rose from 564 in 1991 to 854 in 2000 to 1,184 in 2005. For every 100,000 people there are currently 60 rapes per annum, one third of which involve children under eight years.
Various factors have been identified as motives for, or root causes of, abuse, most notably the cultural socializing processes traditionally (and currently) at work in Namibia. These encourage the philosophy of female submissiveness and inferiority and set this stereotype against a preconception of male authority thereby engendering a social power imbalance and instilling a pervasive attitude of domestic ‘ownership’ (see table 2). This can manifest itself in extreme forms such as the custom of “widow cleansing” (involving the male relatives of the deceased having forced sex with the bereaved to ‘drive away evil influences’) and the forced marriage of under-aged girls by their families to old or middle-aged men.
Both practices, while relatively uncommon, still occur, particularly in the north.
Perhaps more disturbingly, however, from a whole-country perspective, is the fact that many men (44% of adult male population according to Government figures) still believe that wife beating is entirely justifiable if the woman a) neglects the children, b) argues with the man of the house, or c) refuses sex. This figure varies considerably when the Government country study is broken into regions. 90.1% of men in Caprivi Region in the north east, for example, consider it appropriate to beat their wives for neglecting children and 69.4% think that if a spouse or partner refuses sex this is justifiable cause for assault. By contrast in Karas Region in the south the respective figures for the above two scenarios are only 8.3% and 3.6% respectively.
Education and cultural socializing processes are not the only forces in play. Frustration born of poverty, the ‘live for the moment ‘ mentality that is generated by a sense of having no worthwhile future, jealousy spurred by multi-partner relationships, lack of access to education/anger management and counseling are all implicated. Whatever the cause, or combination of causes, of the wave of violence washing through Namibia, a predominant trigger is the excessive consumption of drugs but mainly alcohol.
Categories of violence against women and children as identified by Government and other bodies range from the physical (kicking, beating, burning, choking, even be-heading etc.) to the sexual (rape, including marital rape – according to new legislation sexual abuse in marriage is now an offence – child molestation etc.) to the emotional (intimidation, threats, insults, humiliation etc.) and the economic (withholding/stealing household income, failing to pay child maintenance, spending all income on alcohol etc).
As mentioned earlier, Namibia’s post-Independence legislation to address these various forms of abuse is far-sighted and extremely progressive when it comes to embracing issues over-looked by earlier laws. It also empowers courts to sentence criminals to extremely long terms of imprisonment.
There is, however, an increasing awareness among government, NGOs and civic groups that it is not having the desired (and anticipated) effect of deterrence when it comes to crimes such as rape and violence. As Minister of Safety and Security, Peter Tsheehama stated, “Tough sanctions given to offenders do not offer any remedy. The introduction of the combating of Rape and Domestic Violence Acts, tough as they are, has not brought expected results as perpetrators seem not to take heed of them.”
Indeed one unforeseen and unwelcome side effect to the lengthy sentences threatening convicted rapists as a result of the Rape Act is that sexual offenders are increasingly targeting the frailer members of society – the old, the very young, the physically or mentally disabled etc. in the hope that they will be too intimidated, or indeed, be physically incapable, of testifying at trial (a legal pre-requisite if a case is to proceed). It has been further conjectured that the blinding, mutilation or murder of victims has been stimulated by the fear of imprisonment and the desire to silence witnesses.
It is now generally accepted that the root of the problem lies not in the legislation but in its enforcement and practical implementation. These remain inadequate, tardy and unwieldy.
The length of time it takes to bring perpetrators to justice is an area of particular and fundamental concern. Prosecutions can regularly take as long as three years or more and during this time of waiting many complaints are withdrawn due to peer or family pressure, intimidation by the abuser, acceptance of financial compensation by the victim’s family (but usually not the victim)from the perpetrator, the death of the complainant, loss of evidence or most commonly because of economic reasons – if the bread winner is to be jailed or is waiting for bail to be posted, the families of the abuser are left without income. This can actually lead to the victim of abuse being censured and ostracised for reporting the abuse to the authorities thereby depriving their family or community of financial support.
As a spearhead in the campaign to tackle domestic violence and sexual abuse 15 Women and Child Protection Units (WCPUs) have been established in Namibia’s 13 regions (Photo 2), but again their efforts are being hampered by numerous factors. Their role, while universally recognised as important and badly needed, is undermined by easily rectified failures largely arising from a lack of resources and, in some cases, commitment to the duties they are expected to perform.
Negligence when it comes to providing a victim friendly environment – no privacy during interviews (no private reception facilities), no toys for child rape victims, filthy toilets, interviews conducted through interpreters because the investigative officer is not familiar with local languages, lengthy waiting times before seeing an officer, even a lack of signs advertising the location of the unit – all are common complaints.
More serious and but equally capable of remedy are the reported absence of rape test kits at WCPUs, the absence of spare clothing to replace clothing that needs to be withheld as evidence (some victims are sent back “footing it” to change their clothes and are told to bring back their original clothes from the same house where they were raped), instances of victims being told to come back the next day due to the unavailability of officers (obtaining evidence as soon as possible is essential for rape investigations) and the lack of availability of appropriate transport to investigate alleged rape scenes or to take vulnerable people to places of safety. The Windhoek WCPU, for example has only two vehicles to cover the entire Khomas region (36,805 km2, population in excess of 250,000) and these are largely tied up delivering Protection Orders. In another WCPU there is one vehicle available but three of the officers have no driving licenses and the fourth is not authorized to operate a government vehicle.
Basic office equipment such as computers, photocopiers, fax machines and even telephones at WCPUs are frequently absent, faulty or have gone un-repaired for many months, and in some cases even facilities such as toilets and sinks for washing hands are non existent making medical inspection of rape victims impossible. Only two WCPUs have full-time social workers and even these, like part-time social workers, are only on station during working hours. At night, when most crimes occur, they are off-duty.
No doctors are stationed at WCPUs. The Units instead rely on medical staff ‘borrowed’ as the need arises from nearby hospitals and clinics. This inevitably results in lengthy delays before abuse victims can receive professional examination. Virtually no WCPU’s possess facilities for victims to stay overnight.
While accessing the services of WCPUs is relatively straightforward for urban dwellers, those people living in remote areas with no access to a phone or transport face tremendous hurdles simply reaching them. Unit officers frankly acknowledge that many crimes in rural areas go unreported and that even if the victims wish to make a case there is still some confusion as to where to go and who to see. In many instances poorly educated people are still unaware of what legally constitutes abuse particularly in the fields of emotional and economic abuse.
Pro-active outreach and community awareness programmes that could rectify these latter problems are noteworthy for their absence either due to staff inertia or a lack of resources, materials and Government support.
To address the current shortcomings in the legal procedures and the WCPU network aggressive action needs to be taken on the part of government, police and legal bodies to significantly accelerate and improve the processes of investigation and prosecution, more Public Prosecutors must be retained to ensure prompt trial scheduling, more emphasis must be placed on witness protection, and sufficient resources must be placed at the WCPUs’ disposal to enable them to develop victim friendly infrastructure, install and upgrade basic office facilities and initiate conduct outreach programmes to engage local communities. There is also a desperate need for more social workers at WCPUs – insufficient personnel currently frequently makes follow up service provision or even immediate counseling for victims of abuse impossible – and while there is limited victim counseling training provided to some members of the police at this time, the training needs to be rolled out to all attached serving officers.
Other measures are required; increasing access to relevant education not just on domestic violence but on alcohol abuse, the stationing of psychologists at schools to teach anger management to young people (violence by minors on minors is an increasingly widespread but under-reported phenomenon), the provision of more sheltered housing for abuse victims and multi-media awareness campaigns are all initiatives that are, in some cases, ongoing (eg UNICEF’s Window of Hope programme) but which need to be scaled up.
These steps in themselves, of course, are not a cure-all for the current epidemic of violence against women and children. The factors contributing to such behaviour are diverse, wide ranging, in some cases deeply engrained socio-culturally, and are to be found at individual, family and societal level. This inevitably complicates preventative and rehabilitative measures and makes a multi-dimensional approach essential requiring the participation and co-ordinated involvement of church groups and networks, civil society, NGOs, Government, and Development Partners.
But there is no doubt that if the investigative and legal process was radically streamlined and accelerated it would not only send an un-missable message to potential abusers but would offer comfort and a relative sense of security to thousands of affected and vulnerable Namibian citizens and society at large.
The following quotes have been taken from reports, case studies and the media.
“Yes, I abuse sexually,physically, whatever. So what? A female is there for a man’s purpose, and that’s that.”
“I think I have a right as the head of this household to control my family, even use force to control them.”
“In most areas even 13-year-old girls are having sex, therefore, for a boy to get a virgin, the girls need to be ‘taken’ at a very young age.”
“In the Bible a woman is made out of the rib of a man so they need to be inferior.”
“The case of going to small children is not that he wants to go there, but rather it is the case that he cannot control it.”
“The introduction of the Combating of Rape and Domestic Violence Acts, tough as they are, have not brought expected results as perpetrators seem not to take heed of them.”
Minister of Safety and Security, Peter Tsheehama.
VOX POP: AN OCCASIONAL SERIES OF INTERVIEWS WITH ORDINARY NAMIBIANS ABOUT THE ISSUES THAT AFFECT THEM:
“He beats her up as if she was a block of wood”
Myrtle Hess, Principle of KwaKwas farm primary school.
The following interviews were conducted by myself for a UNICEF Issue Paper on Gender Based Violence and Alcohol Abuse. They took place on a dusty farm South of Windhoek. Farms in Namibia come in various forms but this one was fairly typical. Large, uncultivated, supporting a small population of livestock and wildlife and inhabited by a number of people, some employed by the farmer, but most are unemployed dependents, their friends, or squatters living in shacks. Most tourists never visit this sort of farm, nobody does, really, – they are forgotten or unknown, desolate, timeless, primitive and lawless.
We arrive, the dust settles, curious faces peer out of the school room, suspicious faces peer out of the a workshop then see that we have got a puncture and look happier (hard cash likely if they repair the tire), and then an energetic, positive looking lady emerged from the office. Myrtle Hess, the headmistress of the school, and the glue that keeps this place from really falling apart. She is pleased to see us, partially I suspect because while we are here there’ll be no violence, we’ve brought food for the children, a few dollars for the children, and she wants the wider world to hear what is going on.
“You wouldn’t believe what is going on in these farms!” she informs us. Then it was time to meet our interviewees.
Claudia Viras (21) when I meet her is petite and terrified but is prepared to tell her story. The interview is conducted in secrecy and with a bodyguard present (the bodyguard is my Buddy Billy who authors this Blog’s Bush Chef column). He has killed lots of people during military service and makes a habit of beating muggers to a pulp. His presence is necessary. What Claudia has to say could cost her her life. And if Leonard butts in, he’s in for a serious session of steel toe cap to knee cap action.
Claudia started dating Leonard Van Wyk (25) six years ago and gave birth to a healthy son, Dorian, in 2002.
They live in a small shack near a dry river bed on a dusty farm property named KwaKwas near Rehoboth. Many of the shack dwellers that also live here are unemployed. The abuse of home-brewed alcohol or alcohol in any form is rife.
KwaKwas farm is owned by Leonard’s two uncles. And Leonard believes that this connection affords him the right to behave as he chooses.
So far it has.
Leonard is a child rapist, a wife beater, a molester of juveniles and adult females, a drunk and a very violent man.
In Claudia’s sixth month of her second pregnancy (October 2006) Leonard drank heavily with his five brothers and his overbearing and dominant alcoholic mother. An argument developed and Leonard returned to his shack enraged. He slapped Claudia for visiting her parents on a neighbouring farm. He accused her of neglecting him. When she tried to run, Leonard hit her first in the back (slap) and then in the face (full cut)with a panga.
The brutal facial cut exposed bone and barely missed Claudia’s eye.
The nearest medical clinic is forty minutes drive away over a stony and badly maintained track. Leonard, who has access to a car, could have taken Claudia for help but he refused. He also informed Claudia that should she tell anybody he would kill her. Claudia used herbs growing by the shack to staunch the bleeding. The next morning Leonard apologized.
“I was angry with my mother,” he explained. After a short lull the beatings resumed.
The Witch Thing
Leonard wasn’t always this way, Claudia says. Before her first pregnancy he wooed her with clothes and gifts of shoes and had employment as a builder in the Namibian capital, Windhoek. After the birth of Dorian he quit his job to be “closer to his son”, took occasional work as a goat herder, then sought financial support from his mother. He began drinking heavily and beating Claudia. She still likes him but cannot explain why. “He has no good things about him. I am tied to him. My Godmother told me that a (witch) told her some person burned some (witch) thing that means we must stick together. If I leave him I heard he will die.”
Leonard’s mother lives in a larger house twenty meters from where she sleeps and believes that her son’s life is dependent on the couple remaining together.
Claudia says she has plans to leave Leonard after giving birth to her baby. Her idea is that Leonard will pay for nappies and foodstuffs. Once she has enough to equip her for new motherhood she will escape and go to live with her parents.
She also says that Leonard and his family will follow her and that she will never escape him.
Her parents fear that he will put his threats into practice and kill her. Claudia says she is watched and cannot escape.
This is a frightened, confused woman with obvious recent facial scarring.
While the interview was conducted Leonard and his mother and brothers were less than half a kilometer away drinking in a dry riverbed.
The previous Saturday Leonard had raped a twelve year old girl also living in KwaKwas.
I spoke to her, too, in the presence of Myrtle Hess, the headmistress of the KwaKwas primary school. The little one had this to say:
“He took me in his car. He put a blanket under the tree. He said if I screamed a jackal would come. He said lie down or I’ll kill you. He told me to pull down my panties. I didn’t want to do so, so he did it himself. He tore them and then sat on my legs. I pushed him off. He forced himself on me. He forced himself into me. It was sore. He took the blanket. He put it in the car. He took me to my house and said ‘wash your panties’ and ‘if you tell anyone I will chop off your head.”
The Hills Have Eyes
We alerted the nearest police station about the panga attacks and the child rape and to give the police fair credit they drove out several times to try and arrest Leonard. But a vehicle in this area raises a huge cloud of dust visible from miles away. Leonard is the proud owner of a pair of binoculars. Any copper is sighted twenty minutes before his arrival. Leonard simply heads off into the bush and nobody finds him.
My encounter with this dreadful place left me with mixed feelings. The children in the school were so happy to see us (even Billy) and were ready for life and any fun available, Myrtle was resolute and determined to keep things going. Christian belief and a fundamental compassion sustains her, I think. Leonard and his friends were still out there.
Billy and I went out there again. Uninvited. Our plan was straightforward. We’d grab Leonard, smash his face in, tenderise his reproductive organs, tie him up, strap him to the roof rack and deliver him to the Rehoboth police station.
But his binos were out this time. Our first visit – he’d missed it. But he’d heard about it. And he was in his hills. Waiting for us to go, and for him to come back.
In this occasional series, my friend Billy Lahner (AKA Crazy Billy) introduces some of his favourite Namibian recipes. Today he gives us…
I developed and refined this recipe while working in the army in Ruacana on the Namibian/Angolan border.
I had a lot of time (and chickens) on my hands and, putting modesty aside, I think my many years of trial and error have resulted in an outdoor culinary showstopper. It has the added bonus of doubling as a campfire. It does however come with a warning – make sure you’re close at hand come dish-up time. These Chicken Undergrounds bring out the gluttonous “wolf it down” worst in your fellow diners.
1 packet of chopped bacon.
1 packet of chopped mixed polony.
½ can of sweet corn.
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
½ teaspoon freshly minced root ginger.
2 medium onions roughly chopped.
1 green pepper chopped.
1 red pepper chopped.
1 handful of new potatoes (skins on).
2 bay leaves.
½ chopped banana.
1 lemon or orange.
Salt, pepper, chili (add spices of choice).
1 whole fresh chicken (giblets removed).
1. Fry onions and green pepper until light brown.
2. Add red pepper, garlic, ginger and braise for 2 minutes.
3. Add all remaining ingredients and cook until well-done.
4. Boil the lemon or orange until soft.
Note: the above can be done in advance.
5. Stuff the chicken with the fruit and the fried mix.
6. Place chicken on heavy tin foil and smother it in olive oil – make sure it is completely basted or the chicken will stick. Arrange the new potatoes around it. Season the bird to taste, then wrap it extremely tightly in the foil. To be safe then wrap the thing with two more sheets of foil.
7. Dig a hole 1 foot by 1 ½ feet and roughly 18 inches deep. Place chicken within and surround it with a layer of glowing coals before covering the pit with a flat metal plate and lighting a fire on top.
8. Spend 2 ½ hours doing whatever else you’ve got on your agenda then remove the chicken. Bisect it. Discard the fruit.
It’s time to dig in!
Makone said during cross examination by Bennett’s lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa that he was yet to uncover incriminating evidence against the deputy agriculture minister -designate.
The state, led by Attorney General Johannes Tomana came to trial two weeks ago basing its evidence on testimonies purportedly made by Hitschmann implicating Bennett in the illegal possession of dangerous weapons.
But the “evidence” was barred by presiding judge Chinembiri Bhunu, who said evidence sourced through confessions by an accused person was not admissible in court.
Faced with a crumbling case in its hands, the state now bases its case on alleged email communication between Bennett and Hitschmann.
The state says the emails contained details of the alleged plot to purchase arms for purposes of insurgency.
The state further says the emails were downloaded from Hitschmann’s laptop which was also confiscated and is among the exhibits in Bennett’s trial.
The state also bases its case against Bennett’s through a cash deposit he allegedly made in Hitschmann’s Mozambican bank account which the state says was intended for the purchase of weapons.
But Makone, a high ranking police officer with years of investigative experience, stunned the court when he said the only documentation they had was that Hitschmann possessed a Mozambican account.
He said he could not produce further documentation suggesting Bennett made any such deposit.
Makone said he was still going back to Mozambique to request for details relating to the account.
He also admitted “evidence” about the said account was not produced in Hitschmann’s own trial because it was not sufficient.
As if not enough, Makone admitted one Mutsetse, an IT expert hired by the police to analyze the email messages taken from Hitschmann’s laptop never made any mention of communication by the two alleged accomplices.
“My Lord,” he said, “The emails were downloaded at the instance of Hitschmann. We already had enough evidence against him.”
During Monday’s session, Mtetwa kept challenging Makone to produce the slightest suggestion Hitschmann acted in common purpose with Bennett.
Hitschmann was acquitted of possessing dangerous weapons but was convicted possessing unlicensed weapons.
Mtetwa strongly protested why investigations in Hitschmann’s case were headed by the army and state security agents who do not have any policing experience and are not mandated to enforce the law.
The defence strongly objected the failure by Makone to record a statement from Hitcshmann during investigations ahead of Bennett’s trial saying he omitted this because he knew Hitschmann would deny Bennett’s involvement in the matter.
Asked on what basis Hitschmann and Bennett acted in common purpose, Makone said Hitschmann implicated Bennett on video recorded by the army, something that was strongly objected to by Mtetwa as inadmissible.
“With your experience in investigations,” Mtetwa said, “I put it to you that your investigations in the Hitschmann’s case were extremely shoddy.
I put it to you that your failure to record the witness’ statement in this case was dereliction of duty.
You did not record a witness’s statement from Hitschmann because you knew he was not implicating the accused.
I put it to you that the entire investigations were being controlled by the CIO and the army and you were a mere spectator.
I put it to you that upon recovery of the laptop, it was not in your control.”
The defence is adamant that the emails that the state seeks to rely on were created by the state security agents.
Mtetwa says the police knew that any production of the said email messages would not have sufficed in Hitschmann’s trial.
The trial was adjourned to Tuesday morning. The state is expected to call its second witness in the matter. Thirteen witnesses including Hitschmann are set to testify in the matter.