By:Justicia Shipena, Hertha Ekandjo and Fransina Nghidengwa
Prosecutor General Martha Imalwa has told Namibian lawyers not to be afraid of prosecutors and magistrates being trained to make them “strong”.
On Tuesday various legal practitioners gunned for the PG office which is busy conducting an anti-money laundry training for several magistrates and prosecutors.
The training is said to have started on Monday and will conclude on 19 April in Windhoek and Keetmanshoop.
“These lawyers should not be afraid of prosecutors, they are making us strong,” Imalwa said.
According to her, the reaction by the lawyers is an insult to the magistrates participating in the training.
She added that if the lawyers want to be trained, her office will do so at no cost.
“That is an insult to the magistrate. We are here to train them, if they want to be trained. We are not going to charge them the way they charge the people; we are at the service of the public, including them,” she said.
Imalwa explained that every country in the world is applying a multi-sectoral approach to training.
She said if the members of the legal fraternity are interested in participating they can do so, adding that people who are training the prosecutors and magistrates are not prosecutors who deal with criminal cases.
“The influence is only coming when it is rational or it is not proper or unethical when prosecutors of Namibia are involved. Magistrates are legally trained who apply their minds to issues.”
Imalwa questioned why the lawyers think the magistrates will follow what the prosecutors say as their procedures are clear.
“If they lack knowledge and need to be capacitated, we are here. We can participate in the training. If they think the magistrate can just be influenced by the prosecutors, why can’t they be influenced by the lawyers?” Imalwa asked.
According to letters to the office of the judiciary dated 18 April 2023 in possession of The Villager, this would be a threat to the independence of the judiciary.
Lawyer Kadhila Amoomo said a trend has been created where Imalwa arranges training prosecutors and magistrates on various issues.
He said the trainings ranged from matters relating to the combating of rape, poaching and other animal protection cases.
He also raised concern about the bond between PG’s office and the Office of the Magistrate Commission, stressing that these offices should be independent from one another.
“This means that the office of the Prosecutor-General and the office of the Magistrate Commission are holding each other’s hands as far as understanding of these issues are concerned,” Amoomo said.
He said he finds it strange that legal practitioners never receive an invitation to these workshops.
Sharing the same sentiments, the lawyers at Murorua Kurtz Kasper Inc. law firm said the training is an unacceptable interference to shape the minds of magistrates.
“This is a serious threat to an unfettered and impartial mind magistrates are asked to bring to bear when he or she embarks on the duty to adjudicate over matters when the said training is presented to them together with those who have to prosecute before them,” they said.
Ileni Gebhardt and Co. Inc. expressed that it is inappropriate, unethical and a threat to the independence of the judiciary to allow presiding officers to receive training from one of the parties in applications which they will be required to preside over.
The law firm explained that the independence of the judiciary is not only the cornerstone of constitutional democracy but is an integral requirement of the legal profession.
“As role-players in the legal system, we have a duty to guard against conduct that may result in one of the role-players or the public losing faith in the integrity and independence of the judiciary,”the firm stressed.
Ileni Gebhardt and Co. Inc. added that reasons of expediency and cost-saving should not be at the expense of important constitutional principles.
The legal practitioners have therefore requested the Office of the Judiciary to intervene and put an immediate end to what they term “abnormal and illegal” training.