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Namibian charged with supporting terrorism

A Grootfontein resident accused of providing support to a radical Islamist organisation placed under international counterterrorism sanctions has appeared in court on charges under Namibia’s law against terrorist activities.

Jona Hangula (30) made a brief first appearance on charges under the Prevention and Combating of Terrorist and Proliferation Activities Act of 2014 in the Windhoek Magistrate’s Court on Friday.

Hangula was arrested on Wednesday last week.

Hangula is the first person known to have been charged under Namibia’s anti-terrorism law, which came into operation at the start of July 2014.

In the charges he is facing, the state is accusing him of membership of an organisation involved in terrorist or proliferation activities, recruitment of persons to become members of a terrorist organisation or to participate in terrorism or proliferation activities, and arranging for the retention or control of funds belonging to or controlled by persons involved in terrorist or proliferation activities.

Hangula is also charged with a count of terrorism and funding of terrorist activities.

During his court appearance, public prosecutor Rowan van Wyk informed magistrate Dawid Mukuyu the state is opposing the granting of bail to Hangula, as he is facing serious charges and is considered to be a flight risk if released on bail.

Van Wyk also said the case in which Hangula has been arrested and charged has been under investigation since 2019, and that the investigation is still continuing.

Additional charges could be added against Hangula as the investigation progresses, Van Wyk added.

Since the matter is still under investigation, the police would not release further information except for that conveyed to the court at this stage, the Namibian Police’s chief spokesperson, deputy commissioner Kauna Shikwambi, stated on Friday evening.

It is understood that Hangula, who has interests in close corporations involved in charcoal production, is accused of having provided support to and attempting to recruit people to become members of the radical organisation Islamic State in Iraq.

Hangula told the magistrate on Friday that he intends to apply to be granted bail.

His case has in the meantime been postponed to 8 September, for further investigations to be carried out.

The United Nations Security Council has placed Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, also known as Da’esh, under counter-terrorism sanctions.

Under the Prevention and Combating of Terrorist and Proliferation Activities Act, a person who engages in any terrorist activity in or outside Namibia, whether directly or indirectly, commits the offence of terrorism and is liable to be sentenced to life imprisonment if convicted.

The law defines terrorist activity widely, as any act committed with the intention to instil terror and which is a violation of the criminal laws of Namibia, and which may endanger the life, physical integrity or freedom of any person or may cause damage to property, natural resources, the environment or cultural heritage.

The law’s definition of “proliferation activity” includes the manufacture, acquisition, possession, transport, supply or use of nuclear, ballistic, chemical, radiological or biological weapons or any other kind of weapon capable of causing mass destruction.

The act says a person who in or outside Namibia engages in any proliferation activity commits an offence for which a sentence of life imprisonment can be imposed.

The act further states that a person who knowingly agrees to recruit, or recruits, someone to become a member of an organisation designated by the UN Security Council as being subject to UN sanctions, commits an offence for which they can be sentenced to a period of imprisonment up to 30 years.

A person who is a member of or attempts to be a member of an organisation involved in any terrorist or proliferation activity commits an offence in terms of the act as well, for which they are liable to be sentenced to imprisonment not exceeding 30 years.