WINDHOEK – There is a backlash from the public who question why courts easily grant bail to habitual offenders following the recent death of notorious gangster Sackaria Amateta, well known as ‘Kablou’, who was gunned down by the police while resisting arrest and threatening to harm them.
Amateta, who was 32 at the time of his death last weekend, had 13 cases with the police, ranging from attempted murder to armed robbery, house break-ins, theft, discharging of a firearm in a public place and assault.
Amateta, a well-known criminal who was even feared by the police, walked the streets a free man because he was apparently out on bail.
Social media users weighed in, with one user stating: “Courts are failing the nation. How can a multiple offender always be found innocent every now and then?” Another said: “Our law is the problem, you commit a crime, and nothing happens, police arrest you and the next day you are walking the street to commit more crimes.”
According to information from the Namibian Police Force, Amateta was out on bail of N$1,000 for one of his numerous cases, while one complainant in an armed robbery case withdrew the case against him.
Asked for comment, the chief public relations officer in the Office of the Judiciary, Yvette Hüsselmann, said she could not comment as they are currently busy with annual reports but would forward the questions sent to her to relevant staff for comment. Namibian police spokesperson Deputy Commissioner Edwin Kanguatjivi said the police merely arrest suspects and hand over the suspect to appear in court.
“It is an irony, but our laws state that any person arrested is a mere suspect. This person in the eyes of the law is innocent until proven guilty by the court of law. Until they are convicted in the court of law, this person has the right to be free,” said Kanguatjivi.
Kanguatjivi explained that habitual offenders get granted bail because someone along the line failed to do their job properly.
“From what I’ve gathered at court, sometimes officers who have objected to bail fail to show up in court to give reasons why they are opposing bail and thus, the next thing you see, the person is back on the street committing more crimes,” noted Kanguatjivi.
He added that bail is granted at the discretion of the court. When suspects appear in court for bail, certain elements are considered before the court grants or refuses bail. Such elements may range from previous conviction to interreference of investigations, being considered a flight risk, among others.
“If there is failure to bring these elements before a presiding magistrate and the defence lawyer has convinced the court that accused is not a danger to the public, then the court cannot keep a suspect in custody. But in other cases the prosecution itself fails to object to bail,” he said.
Kanguatjivi said the way forward is for the court to stop granting bail to offenders who commit similar offences or those suspects that commit crimes while they are on bail in one or two cases pending against them.