A GROUP of activists held a peaceful demonstration in Oshakati demanding the removal of Magistrate Leopold Hangalo from playing any further part in a rape case involving businessman Sindano Hango.
In 2019, Hango walked away as a free man after he was acquitted in the Oshakati Regional Court. However, the prosecution launched an appeal against the acquittal with the Oshakati High Court, and the judge reviewing the case found that the magistrate that presided over the matter must review his finding.
The matter has now been referred back to Magistrate Hangalo for finalization.
Hango was accused of raping his cousin on 12 October 2014 and bribing her with N$10 000 to withdraw the rape charge. He has since November 2016 been on bail of N$6 000.
Speaking on behalf of protesters Iyaloo Nghandi, said they want Magistrate Hangalo to recuse himself from the matter or that it must be placed before another magistrate for retrial.
“We have suspicions that Magistrate Hangalo would be biased when he hands down a sentence as he was during the trial when he acquitted the accused,” said Nghandi.
She noted that Magistrate Hangalo acquitted Hango, despite incriminating evidence, such as SMSs and printouts of phone records from MTC where he apologized for the act as well as the sworn statements from eyewitnesses.
It is the opinion of the protesters that the evidence before the court was enough to convict Hango on the charge of rape.
She stated that the High Court judge overturned the acquittal and, therefore, rightfully convicted the accused person.
Nghandi noted that the matter was handled with kid gloves from the onset, prompting the protesters to think that the judiciary is simply for sale.
The group appealed to High Court Judge Danie Small to change his order to that of ordering another magistrate to preside over the sentencing stage of the matter.
“It is in the interest of justice, and in an effort to put an end to Gender-Based Violence against women,” she said.
The group called on the Minister of Justice, the Minister of Gender Equality and Child Welfare, the Office of the Prosecutor General, and the Inspector General of the Namibian Police to ensure that curbing GBV should not just be words and paperwork.
“Actions should speak louder than words,” they demanded.
Nghandi stated that this case should send out a strong message to would-be rapists as well as family members who hide such despicable violations of human dignity that protecting the culprits due to their social standing should not be tolerated at all.