NTTU President says Namibian justice system is unfair

Stefanus Nashama

Werner Januarie, the President of the Namibia Transport and Taxi Union (NTTU), has strongly criticized the Namibian justice system, citing unfairness in its handling of his court cases. In a recent letter addressed to Chief Justice Peter Shivute and sent to the Supreme Court of Namibia, Januarie expressed his profound disappointment, stating that his soul is deeply troubled by the state of the Namibian justice system.

“I write to you with dismay and anguish, for my heart and soul are torn apart, as it seems that justice is elusive in this country,” he wrote in his letter.

Januarie lamented that, despite his numerous attempts to seek justice since 2020, it has consistently eluded him. He specifically highlighted his efforts to challenge certain laws related to public transport in the country.

The taxi unionist further claimed that he was subjected to physical assault and harassment by the police and members of the Namibian Defence Force.

This, he asserted, occurred when he was not wearing a mask, and the authorities allegedly jumped on his body and threatened his life during an incident that transpired in August 2020.

Januarie contended that the pursuit of justice in this matter failed after he took it to the high court, where he was charged unlawfully.

“The genesis of this issue dates back to when I was targeted, harassed, assaulted, and arrested. I was physically beaten with AK47s by Namibian police and military officers who also physically detained me at Dolam shops, Sukkot Street in Katutura on August 21, 2020. Subsequently, I was falsely charged,” he recounted.

In response to these alleged injustices, Januarie is now pursuing a legal claim against the government, seeking N$74 million in compensation for the assaults and harassment he endured.

Court documents obtained by the Windhoek Observer list President Hage Geingob, former Minister of Safety and Security Frans Kapofi, Prosecutor General Martha Himarwa, former Police Chief Sebastian Ndeitunga, and Attorney General Festus Mbandeka as respondents in the case.

Januarie believes that he was unjustly denied access to justice when a capricious moratorium was imposed on legal aid. He argues that this restriction, although presented as being of general application, was specifically designed to obstruct his access to justice.

“Regrettably for the state, their attempt to deny me access to justice inadvertently opened the door and a window of opportunity for the plaintiff, now appellant, to institute a lawsuit or civil legal litigation independently. This created an opportunity to demand appropriate remedies and relief in damages totalling N$74 million,” he stated.

Januarie accused Judge Esi Schimming-Chase of acting inconsistently with the provisions of the law and failing to demonstrate independence and impartiality during the proceedings of his court case.

He urged the Supreme Court to ensure that the principles of neutrality, impartiality, fairness, and independence are upheld, as these are essential components of the doctrine of the separation of powers, designed to safeguard citizens’ liberties and prevent tyranny.

According to court documents, Januarie has applied to the High Court for the reinstatement of the appeal, with a hearing scheduled for January 22, 2024. The condonation application is also set to be heard alongside the appeal on February 12, 2024.

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