By: Kelvin Chiringa
A woman who was battling a charge of unlawful possession of dependence drugs, Mandrax, burst into tears of joy yesterday in the Windhoek High Court when she was set free after the judge ruled against her conviction and sentencing.
Rebekka Shixwanda’s freedom came about after it came to light that her conviction was marred by mistakes on the part of the Gobabis magistrates’ court which did not follow due procedure in a bid to secure a solid case against her.
Shixwanda was slapped with a jail term of two years of which one year was suspended for five years on condition that she did not commit the same crime again by the Gobabis magistrates’ court.
This was after she had pleaded guilty to the charge after she had indicated to the court that she would conduct her own defense.
The state’s case was that upon or about the 30th day of April 2017 and at or near Damara block in the district of Gobabis the accused wrongfully and unlawfully dealt in a prohibited dependence-producing drug valued at N$ 1 620.00.
However, Shixwanda made a sudden change of mind and decided to appeal her case in the High Court during which time she got assigned to Judge Hosea Angula.
She argued in her notice of appeal that the magistrate had erred in law by accepting her guilty plea without having satisfied himself that the tablets found in her possession were indeed Mandrax tablets.
She also successfully convinced the court that there was no scientific analysis placed before the court by way of a certificate to the effect that the tablets found in the Appellant’s possession were indeed Mandrax.
The accused wisely relied on the case of S v Maniping, S v Thwala 1994 NR 69 (HC).
Here, the court held that where an accused who pleads guilty makes an admission when questioned of a fact which is outside his personal knowledge, the State should be in a position to produce an analyst’s certificate and the accused should be given the opportunity of examining such a certificate.
The accused also argued that the prosecution was not invited by the court to place any evidence before the court for it to satisfy itself that the tablets were indeed Mandrax.