Murder, rape cases pile up

…as Ondangwa magistrate rejects ‘low’ pay offer

By Marianne Nghidengwa

OVER 30 court cases from Ondangwa, Outapi, Opuwo and Okahao regional courts that include murder, rape and armed robbery, dating as far back as 2005 may start afresh after the Magistrates Commission of Namibia allegedly failed to renew the contract of Magistrate Alvin Simpson, who presided over the cases.

Confidente understands that Simpson’s five-year contract ended in May last year and was not renewed after the parties involved failed to reach an amicable solution. The impasse was allegedly caused by a salary of N,000 per month and an additional N0 offered to Simpson to conclude the cases within three months.
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The cases have now been transferred to Oshakati, where they are continuously postponed in Simpson’s absence, severely affecting the administration of justice. Without Simpson, the cases will not proceed and may soon have to start afresh if a new magistrate is appointed to take over.

This means suspects and especially witnesses will have to be summoned to testify in court again, a process that will cost government more money to effectively conclude the cases. Confidente understands that government forks out about N$350 per kilometer for the first 600 kilometers and N$1 per kilometer thereafter to state witnesses to attend court.

“A majority of the cases are partly heard, some dating as far back as 2005. These are serious cases including murder, rape and armed robbery. The cases are forever being postponed and this prejudices the accused persons. It also flies in the face of the effective delivery of justice,” said a source on condition of anonymity.

Chief Magistrate Commission, Harris Salionga explained that while the unresolved matter is a travesty of justice, Simpson has not fully communicated whether he was happy or not with the proposed three-month contract to conclude his cases.

“When his contract ended, it was not renewed. He also left a lot of cases that are not completed. We then suggested we bring him back on a three-month contract to allow him to finalise the cases that are outstanding. He is not happy with the contract but he did not approach us to negotiate. We do not know what he wants. The situation is bad for the administration of justice,” Salionga said.

He could however not indicate how much longer the matter would drag on before a decision is made to ensure that justice prevails in the serious cases.

In his defense, Simpson said that as much as he wants to resume his duties, he is unable to accept the offer.

“I got the three-month contract on 28 August but the package is ridiculous. I cannot accept it and I told them exactly that in writing recently. Unless they give me a better offer, I will not accept it.
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They are offering me N$8,000 per month and an additional N$600 per day if there is court. How can I survive with N$8 000 per month?

“I have a passion for law and I want to see justice prevail but it is fair for me to say that I cannot accept the offer. I am willing to go back to finalise the cases, but the offer has to change.”