The absolution in the N$7.5 million defamation claim, filed by Zelna Hengari against her former employer, the Namibia Wildlife Resorts (NWR) and the Minister of Environment and Tourism, Pohamba Shifeta was rejected in the High Court of Namibia.
Hengari filed a civil suit against her former employer, Shifeta, and former public enterprises minister Leon Jooste, claiming N$7.5 million for reputational damage related to a press statement issued
by the board on 5 April 2018 and published in local newspapers.
The press statement issued on the local newspaper relates to a 30-year joint partnership agreement between NWR and Sun Karros Lifestyle Safaris (Pty) Ltd.
Hengari in the court papers said the board alleged she had signed the agreement for a period of 30 years without its and the environment minister’s approval.
The agreement was signed by NWR on 11 June 2018, and by Sun Karros in May 2018.
Hengari was wanted the High Court to direct NWR and the ministry of tourism to each issue public apologies.
“An order directing the first defendant to issue a public apology to the plaintiff using the publication media such as a press release in at least two national newspapers one being The Namibian newspaper within one month of the Order of the Honorable Court directing the first respondent to do so.
“An order directing the second defendant to issue a public repudiation of the false assertion by the first defendant that their approval of the Glamping Project was occasioned by misrepresentation on the part of the plaintiff,” read her particulars of claim.
Hengari was also requesting an order directing the NWR to pay N$7.5 million in defamation damages, as well as an order interdicting and restraining the NWR and its board members from performing any further actions that may injure, defame, or slander Hengari.
However, both claims were dismissed.
In April 2021, Hengari lost in the High Court when she challenged the NWR board’s decision not to renew her contract.
Hengari’s contract was due to end on 16 July 2019, but in January she was served with a notice of non-renewal.
She was then suspended in April the same year over allegations relating joint-venture partnership with Sun Karros Lifestyle Safaris without approval.