Hengari threatens to sue police chief for N$2 million over unlawful detention

Stefanus Nashama

Inna Hengari, the Popular Democratic Movement’s Member of Parliament, has revealed her intention to sue the Inspector General of the Namibian Police, Lieutenant General Joseph Shikongo, for N$2 million.

The intended lawsuit follows Hengari’s alleged unlawful arrest and detention by the police and the subsequent partial prosecution on charges that were withdrawn on 15 August 2023.

According to a letter addressed to Shikongo, by Hengari’s Lawyer, Mesekameneko Tjituri, the civil proceedings are expected to be instituted in the High Court of Namibia on 15 March 2024.

Tjituri stated that his client was unlawfully arrested and detained by the police.

“As the consequence of your members’ unlawful and reprehensible conduct, we herewith notify you in terms of section 39 of the Police Act 19 of 1990, that you are liable to a civil claim by our client for pain and suffering, shock and trauma, loss of proper amenities of life and discomfort and that we shall be instituting civil proceedings in the High Court of Namibia on 15 March 2024 from the date hereof,” stated Tjituri.

Adding that her client (Hengari) will file a claim for damages for N$2 million for the damages she suffered.

Hengari, along with Social Activists Michael Amushelelo and Dimbulukeni Nauyoma were arrested for organising a protest on 21 March 2023, the day Namibia commemorates its Independence.

The protest was against high unemployment in the country, particularly among the youth.

“It is our further instructions that as a consequence of the arrest, our client appeared in the criminal court and was unlawfully, wrongfully, and maliciously prosecuted on charges which the prosecution established did not establish any evidence to sustain the charges proffered.

“We refer to the above matter and herewith inform that we act herein on behalf of our client Ms. Hengari, on whose instructions we address this notice to you in pursuance of the statutory requirements and compliance with a requisite audi principle for the envisaged lawsuit

“Our instructions are to inform you as we hereby do that on or about the 21st day of March 2023, at Otjomuise Police Station (Windhoek), members (or a member) of the Namibian Police, acting in your name, place, and stead, and under your direct command and instructions conducted an unlawful and wrongful arrest of our aforesaid client, he further said.

According to Tjituri, the police officers did not have reasonable or probable cause to conduct the arrest of Hengari and did so in utter misuse of power and outside the jurisdictional facts of the arrest.

During her detention, Hengari was further held in police holding cells at Klein Windhoek Police Station for nine days, in contravention of the requisite jurisdictional facts, he added.

At the same time, Tjituri extended an invitation to Shikongo, to make any reasonable and acceptable offer or to engage in an amicable settlement and negotiation to avert legal proceedings before 15 March 2024.

Speaking to Windhoek Observer yesterday, Hengari said she is suing Inspector-General Shikongo, and should the matter go to trial, the Prosecutor-General will be a respondent.

The parliamentarian said she challenges systems not merely for the sake of winning, but rather because if she, or any other Namibian, can become a victim of the law’s misuse, abuse, or arbitrary application, so can the downtrodden in society.

“Our challenge is important, as failure to do so would permit the unchecked, unjust arrest, and malicious persecution of dissenting voices in our country,” she stated.

Hengari further stressed she refuses to stand by and witness the erosion of constitutional democracy.

“We are committed to safeguarding it vigorously, and if it necessitates seeking vindication through the courts, so be it, she added.

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