Mediation could resolve defamation lawsuit involving former Walvis Bay CEO

Niël Terblanché

The Former Chief Executive Officer of the Walvis Bay Municipality, Muronga Haingura, has taken legal action against the Walvis Bay town council, former regional councillor Knowledge Ipinge, and municipal employee relations officer Gertrude Usiku, alleging defamation and demanding N$1.5 million in compensation.

The lawsuit stems from accusations that Haingura misappropriated N$24 million intended for a government-funded mass land servicing project.

In a recent development, the legal representatives of the municipal council have proposed a mediation process to explore the possibility of settling with the plaintiff and the first respondents.

The mediation date has been set for Friday, 26 January 2024, with the council hoping to find an amicable resolution to the matter.

The town council’s legal counsel expressed confidence in the potential for success in mediation, contingent upon the plaintiff withdrawing his claim against the council.

In the lawsuit, the municipal council, Ipinge, and Usiku have been named as the first, second, and third defendants, respectively.

Haingura contends that the defendants should have known that the funds were invested in a suspense account of the municipality but chose to publicly state that the money had vanished under his leadership.

Haingura asserts that due to these allegations, the Namibian public widely perceived him as “dishonest” and a “corrupt criminal,” leading to damage to his reputation, emotional distress, injuria, anxiety, and contumelia.

He is demanding compensation of N$1.5 million for damages.

According to Haingura’s particulars of claim, the municipality, Ipinge, and Usiku acted with a common purpose to tarnish his name in the mainstream media.

He alleges that despite the first defendant (Walvis Bay municipality council) knowing or having the opportunity to confirm that the funds were not missing, they failed to take any action to correct the public perception or investigate the matter.

Haingura also contends that the allegations made against him were false and made with malicious intent. He suggests that there may have been a failure to conduct proper investigations into the allegations before the defendants responded to the media.

During the investigation, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) confiscated Haingura’s laptops and mobile phones, along with those of three other top officials of the Walvis Bay municipality, on suspicion of their involvement in the alleged disappearance of the N$24 million.

The other officials included General Manager, Augustinho Victor, Housing and Properties Manager, Jack Manale, and Property Clerk Connie Summers.

They were placed on forced leave during the ACC probe but were later recalled, and an audit report revealed that the N$24 million was not missing, though several serious discrepancies in the execution of the project were uncovered.

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