PRESIDENT Mugabe has — with immediate effect — appointed Advocate Ray Hamilton Goba as substantive Prosecutor-General (PG) following the dismissal of Mr. Johannes Tomana on account of gross incompetence and misconduct. Adv Goba took part in public interviews conducted by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to select a substantive PG last month. After the interviews, JSC in terms of the Constitution submitted names of the best three to President Mugabe for final appointment.
However, Goba’s suitability for office has been thrown into doubt after it emerged he has a criminal record in Namibia where he was also declared a prohibited immigrant, while he worked there as deputy prosecutor-general and legal services director until five years ago.
Goba, who served as Namibia’s Deputy Prosecutor General, was convicted in a Namibian regional court in 2002 for driving a vehicle on a public road with excessive blood alcohol concentration in contravention of Section 140 (2) of the Road Traffic Ordinance 1967; failing to obey a road traffic sign in contravention of section of section 101 (1) of the Ordinance and attempting to defeat or obstruct the course of justice.
The conviction over his attempt to obstruct or defeat the course of justice, in particular, is haunting Goba, who was denied a work and residence permit in Namibia in 2011 on the strength of the conviction.
Following the regional court’s ruling an aggrieved Goba appealed to the High Court in 2004 seeking to quash the conviction.
Justice Gerhard Maritz, however, upheld Goba’s conviction over his failure to obey a road traffic sign and attempting to obstruct or defeat the course of justice.
The appeal against conviction for driving a vehicle with excessive blood alcohol concentration was successful after Maritz ruled that the prosecution had failed to prove beyond any reasonable doubt that the blood which had been analysed was the specimen obtained from Goba shortly after his arrest.
His application for leave to appeal at the Supreme Court was dismissed.
According to court documents, Goba’s conviction on the charge of attempting to obstruct or defeat the course of justice was premised on the allegation that he “knowingly tried to avoid the taking of a specimen of his blood within the statutory period of two hours by (a) refusing to furnish the law enforcement officers with the cellphone or telephone number of his legal representative before the specimen was taken; (b) attempting to escape while being transported in lawful custody to the hospital for the specimen to be taken; (c) attempting to escape from lawful custody at the hospital before the specimen was taken (d) attempting by threats to intimidate the law enforcement officers not to investigate the alleged offence against him and (e) refusing to submit to the taking of a blood specimen by the doctor when requested to do so.”
Goba was arrested at 2:15am on February 12 2000 by traffic police officers after he turned right in conflict with a directional arrow, leading to the chain of events which resulted in his conviction for attempting to defeat the course of justice.
Following his conviction, the Namibian government declined to renew his employment permit which lapsed on December 31 2010 after he failed to secure work and residence permits. At the time he was the Chief Director of Legal Services and International Cooperation in the Ministry of Justice.
Goba applied again for a work permit and a permanent residence permit to legitimise his stay in Namibia after the termination of his contract, but learnt on February 15 2011 that both applications had been rejected.
He appealed to the Minister of Home Affairs and Immigration on February 18, explaining that his last contract of employment had come to an end unexpectedly and pointed out that he had also appealed against the refusal of permanent residence and was awaiting a decision in respect thereof. He also filed a High Court application seeking the review and setting aside of the decisions taken by the Immigration Selection Board to refuse to grant him permanent residence and employment permits. In addition, Goba sought an order that he be entitled to carry on his profession in Namibia and another one that the Director of Immigration issue him a permanent residence permit.
He indicated that he wanted to work with Namibian law firm Shikongo Law Chambers.
However, Justice Raymond Heathcote dismissed his application, citing his conviction.
“Unfortunately for the applicant, he was convicted (by a Namibian Court after he came to Namibia), on a charge of attempting to obstruct or defeat the course of justice. On appeal, this conviction was confirmed by the High Court on 29 June 2004. An application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court was also refused,” Heathcote ruled.
“In various subsequent applications for visas the applicant sought to downplay the offence as a ‘traffic offence’, or failed to furnish details of the offence as he was required to do.
“As a legal practitioner, the applicant would have known that in terms of section 39(2) (f) (i) of the Immigration Control, Act 1993, (herein after ‘the Act’) any person who has been convicted in Namibia of any offence specified in Schedule 1 of that Act, shall be a prohibited immigrant in respect of Namibia. Schedule 1 of the Act includes the offence of ‘defeating or obstructing the course of justice’ and any attempt to do so.
“During argument it soon became clear that, if section 39(2)(f)(i) declared the applicant a prohibited immigrant, the application cannot succeed.”
Heathcote dismissed Goba’s application, saying: “I conclude therefore that applicant, having been found guilty of an attempt to defeat the course of justice (in Namibia by the Namibian Courts), is a prohibited immigrant, and the court cannot under such circumstances grant the interim relief.”