By Confidente Reporter
THE Magistrates Commission is looking into allegations of how Ohangwena Presiding Magistrate, Natalia Hanhele reportedly refused to provide a Windhoek street vendor accused of threatening the Oukwanyama Queen a public document in order to apply for legal aid. Hanhele has since early July reportedly failed to provide the accused Treffeine Shaalukeni (44) a copy of her charge sheet in order to apply for legal aid that is funded by taxpayers to help with a case in which Queen Martha Mwadinomho Kristian Nelumbu accused Shaalukeni of impersonating an Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) officer before threatening to arrest the queen for failing to reinstate two headmen and a headwoman she dismissed in 2011. The queen in 2011 dismissed Ohaingu Traditional District senior traditional council, Sipora Dan, Okelemba Traditional District senior headman Hangula Vatila and Ongha village headman George Hikumwa over various reasons including holding an illegal public meeting.
Confirming the matter, the commission’s secretary Lusia Shilongo said that the institution received the complaint from NamRights and that more information is being weighed for possible investigations.
“It is hereby confirmed that the Magistrates Commission received and discussed the said complaint. The Commission resolved to exercise audi alterm partem rule by giving the concerned magistrate an opportunity to respond to the allegations in writing, and thereafter a decision, whether or not to investigate the matter, will be made,” Shikongo said.
NamRights’ Executive Director, Phil ya Nangolo in a letter addressed to the commission said that Hanhele rudely and arrogantly cut their telephonic conversation over the matter recently.
“For several weeks prior to the incident (telephonic conversation) NamRights has been trying to obtain a copy of the charge sheet in respect of a client who is an indigent citizen. NamRights is helping the accused woman to apply for legal aid from the Directorate of Legal in Windhoek where she lives and works as a street vendor. A copy of the charge sheet is required to be attached to her application for legal aid…This process of trying to obtain a copy of the charge sheet went on back and forth for several weeks,” part of Ya Nangolo’s letter read. Ya Nangolo said that although the directorate phoned officials at the magistrate court to release the document, he was still told to personally speak to Hanhele. During their telephonic conversation, Hanhele reportedly said, “You should have known that you must first write to me requesting for such a copy after which I will decide whether or not to grant your request. I am in a meeting,” she reportedly said to Ya Nangolo before rudely cutting their conversation short.
Ya Nangolo says that because of Hanhele’s behaviour, he strongly believes that Shaalukeni will not have a fair trial. “The biased and hostile conduct demonstrated by Magistrate Hanhele now raises reasonable apprehension of bias in our minds that our client would not receive a fair trial in any magistrates court presided over by Ms Hanhele. This is the case because the mere appearance of bias on the part of any judicial officer is in our sincere opinion sufficient to overturn any judicial decision he or she makes because not only must justice be done, it must also be seen to be done.”
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