WINDHOEK, 29 JUN – Martinus Pretorius, a South African national facing 19 human trafficking and rape offences committed in Namibia in 2012, is now without legal representation following the withdrawal from the case of his State-funded defence lawyer, Mese Tjituri on Friday.
Tjituri parted ways with Martinus Pretorius when the accused made another appearance before High Court Deputy Judge President, Hosea Angula during a pre-trial conference of case management review.
The lawyer cited an inability to reach a common understanding on several issues contained in the charge sheet with his client as the reason for his withdrawal, adding that his client has also not provided him with instructions on how to proceed in his defence.
Angula subsequently allowed Tjituri to withdraw from the case and in the process, Pretorius was again ordered to apply to the Justice Ministry’s Directorate of Legal Aid for another State-funded lawyer to defend him during future court proceedings and when his trial begins.
Director of Legal Aid, Patience Daringo was also summoned to come to court on Friday and assured both the court and the accused that another lawyer will be appointed and instructed to represent Pretorius from Tuesday next week.
The case was, thereafter, postponed until Tuesday to allow the Legal Aid department to appoint another lawyer for Pretorius.
In addition, the voluminous documents containing the prosecution’s disclosure and a colour copy of the photo plan were also availed to Pretorius in order to properly prepare for his defence case.
State Advocate Felistas Shikerete-Vendura is appearing for the prosecution.
Pretorius’ trial, which High Court Judge President Petrus Damaseb has been assigned to preside over, is scheduled to run between 16 and 20 July 2018.
The 47-year-old Pretorius, a former South African police officer, also faces other charges emanating from the coercive circumstances in which the alleged rape and human trafficking offences took place.
These include assault by threat, common assault and malicious damage to property.
He allegedly raped three minor girls aged between 13 and 14 in Swakopmund in the Erongo Region in 2012, before fleeing the country in September of the same year.
Pretorius was arrested in South Africa in April 2016, after which the extradition process commenced and concluded in December 2017, when he was finally brought back to Namibia to face the charges.
He was employed at Rössing Uranium Mine near Arandis when the alleged crimes took place.
His co-accused, Namibian Johanna Lukas, who allegedly provided the minor girls to Pretorius on four occasions between April and May 2012, was sentenced to 13 years direct imprisonment on counts of human trafficking and rape.
The judgement was handed down by Judge President Damaseb in August 2015.
Pretorius is alleged to have paid Lukas N.dollars 10 000.
Pretorius remains in police custody at the Windhoek Central Correctional Facility with no option to post bail until Tuesday.