WINDHOEK, 04 APR – A ruling in an attempt by a former police constable who wants High Court Judge Dinah Usiku to recuse herself from presiding over his double murder trial, is expected to be made known on Thursday.
Albertus !Ganeb is on trial in the High Court’s newly refurbished courtroom at the Windhoek Central Correctional Facility for allegedly having stabbed his two sons to death in Gobabis in April 2014.
A ruling in respect of this recusal application is expected to be made public by Judge Usiku herself.
In his urgent application on 16 March 2018, !Ganeb said he wanted Usiku to stop presiding over his trial with immediate effect, because he felt he did not receive a fair trial with her on the bench.
!Ganeb claimed the judge was protecting the interests of the prosecution when she did not allow his former defence lawyer, Boris Isaacks, to properly cross-examine and re-examine a number of State witnesses.
He said the judge protected and shielded a number of State witnesses from answering specific questions posed by Isaacks during the trial.
“My constitutional rights to a fair trial are now being threatened and infringed on by the manner in which Judge Dinah Usiku is handling this case. The judge is particularly biased for her constant interference in the proceeding by disallowing the defence to properly question the State witnesses on several occasions,” said !Ganeb.
The former police officer also wants the matter to be referred back to the High Court’s pre-trial conference of case management review to start afresh before another judge.
However, State Advocate Palmer Khumalo argued that there is no basis for !Ganeb to believe that his rights to a fair trial were being infringed upon. He said Usiku disallowing questions posed repeatedly, cannot be regarded as interference.
“!Ganeb’s application for the judge’s recusal is without merits and should be refused by the court,” said Khumalo.
In the matter, the victims – Tirtus Romeo Shaun Swartz, 7, and four-year-old Gregory Swartz – were stabbed at the Epako settlement on 25 April 2014.
Tirtus was stabbed four times in the head and once in the neck; while Gregory was stabbed once in the neck, once in the head and once in the back.
The seven-year-old died at the scene while Gregory succumbed to his injuries in the Katutura State Hospital a few days after the incident.
!Ganeb allegedly stabbed his sons in a fit of jealousy after he had seen a text message from another man on the mobile phone of the children’s mother, Romily Swartz.
He then allegedly threatened to kill Romily, the two boys and the person who sent the text message.
!Ganeb remains in custody at the Hosea Kutako International Airport police holding cells, pending the ruling of the recusal bid.
He is now defending himself after firing Africa Jantjies and Isaacks, alleging the lawyers did not represent him honestly and to the best of their abilities.