Home Affairs Ministry ordered to fork out N$50 000 in assault damages for trans women

Tujoromajo Kasuto

The Minister of Home Affairs, Immigration, Safety and Security has today been ordered by High Court Judge Esi Schimming- Chase to pay N$50, 000 in damages to a transgender woman, Mercedez Von Cloete, after she was unlawfully arrested and experienced police brutality on July 6, 2017, in Windhoek.

Von Cloete had initially sued the minister for N$ 200 000 for psychological shock, trauma, inconvenience and discomfort suffered as a result of the unlawful arrest and assault by a police officer only identified as Kavari.” Von Cloete at court today expressed her relief and joy at the final delivery of the judgement after a “traumatic” five years of litigation and says she is ready to start her healing journey and continue with her life peacefully.

“It was the most exciting news I have heard in a long time and it has made me a little more optimistic and hopeful that justice does in fact exist in Namibia and that it is possible to seek recourse through the legal system and that truth will always prevail, “she says urging fellow members of society who have been subjected to cruel treatment not be afraid and to take the necessary steps to get their day in court, which she adds might take a long time, but “the day will eventually come.”

On the night of July 6, 2017, von Cloete was exiting the KFC establishment in town at around 2:45 with a friend, Geoffrey Hiuii. She was then approached by two men in civilian clothes who identified themselves as police officers and allegedly proceeded to grab her and force her into the police van and drove off to Windhoek Police Station after informing her that they were looking for her.

She had testified that upon the closing of the door of the police van, Officer Kavari got in the back with Hiuii and herself, and the officer climbed on top of her and started assaulting her with closed fists until her arrival at the Central Police Station. Under cross-examination, von Cloete testified that she had never encountered officer Kavari before this incident and she was arrested for no reason.

The State had argued that the reason for the arrest is highly improbable and the most probable contention is that there was a complaint by a KFC employee and that von Cloete was being unruly when she was approached by officers Kavari and Isaac.

She further testified under cross-examination that as a result of the assault, she had a blue eye. In addition, she said that she attempted to assault officer Kavari with her handbag immediately before she was kicked by Kavari in self defence, which is allegedly captured in the video footage submitted to court as evidence.

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