By: Andrew Kathindi
Two men who were, this week, acquitted by the High Court in a N$ 6.2 million diamond heist case say the decade-long saga has traumatised them.
Judge Christie Liebenberg found Emmanuel Shikololo and Rodney Klim, both 48, not guilty of theft at Debmarine Namibia over 10 years ago.
However, despite looking relieved when the Judge made his ruling, the two said the matter has left them traumatised.
“This has been traumatising for me. But I feel happy. Finally, justice has been done because I knew from the beginning I was innocent. God is there. God proved he is good. He showed that he doesn’t unnecessarily hurt people who didn’t do anything,” Shikololo told The Villager.
Shikololo and Klim worked on a Debmarine vessel as plant hand and process controller, respectively.
The two were arrested for the theft of 453 pieces of unpolished diamonds in 2011 and were charged with theft of 668.26 carats of unpolished diamonds valued at N$6.2 million, three counts in contravention of the Diamond Act and conspiracy to commit an offence. They were released on bail. Last year they pleaded not guilty on all counts.
“This thing was not easy. I don’t have much to say. All I can say is, I know I am not guilty. Because I know I didn’t do anything. That’s why I just thank God,” Klim said.
Liebenberg stated that determination of the guilt of Shikololo and Klim rested on the evidence of former Debmarine security officer David Jarvis, a single witness.
The Judge said that Jarvis gave single evidence without any corroboration. His testimony was the only incriminating evidence in the case.
According to court documents, the state’s key witness, a former Debmarine security officer, David Jarvis, was approached by one of the two accused and lured into joining them to smuggle unpolished diamonds off the vessel.
Jarvis then reported the matter to his seniors and played along, setting up a sting operation that led to Shikololo and Klim’s arrest.
Quizzed on how they feel, “We don’t have anything to say to him (Jarvis). It’s only that he almost destroyed our lives. But we have nothing to say to him,” said Klim.
“We’ll see the way forward,” Shikololo said.
Jarvis testified that he was shown diamonds by Shikololo, who later asked him to courier them off the vessel through the scanning process at Orangemund.
He also testified that around September 2011, a meeting was arranged between Shikololo, Klim and himself at the (now) Avani hotel in Windhoek, where Shikololo was booked into to set up an appointment with a potential buyer in Cape Town.
“As regards Jarvis receiving any award for his participation in the operation, he confirmed that he received N$1.5 million from the company,” said Liebenberg.
Jarvis had mentioned that it took one year of planning to recover the stolen diamonds.
The Judge said that although the evidence does not explicitly expose Jarvis as having fabricated evidence to set up and falsely incriminate Shikololo and Klim, this possibility cannot be excluded.
Judge Liebenberg also questioned why Jarvis, during the operation to trap the accused, had allowed Shikololo access into a vessel recovery area without following procedures.
“In the absence of any reasonable explanation by Jarvis explaining his failure and undermining behaviour towards existing procedures on his watch, the level of caution regarding his testimony is significantly raised. His actions in the circumstances during these incidents defy logic. That in itself renders him incredible as a witness,” said the Judge.
The Judge said that Shikololo and Klim were not shaken during the cross-examination, and neither did they show to have contradicted themselves.
“On the contrary, they corroborated one another in material respects, and as stated, their evidence was corroborated by state witness Van Wyk and Hamukuaja.”
Shikololo and Klim were represented by Meriam Kandoni and Loretha Muvangua of Legal Aid, respectively.