The Director General of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), Paulus Noah, and Prosecutor General, Martha Imalwa have emerged victorious in a lawsuit filed against them by pensioner Selma Fimanekeni Mbome for unlawful arrest by ACC members in 2017.
The ruling was handed down by High Court Judge Kobus Miller yesterday.
In her lawsuit, Mbome cited Noah, Imalwa and the government as the first, second, and third respondents.
She sought N$1,695,454 in damages, with interest at a rate of 20 percent per annum for the suffering she endured during her arrest and the associated legal costs.
Mbome was arrested in 2017 on allegations of corruption of using her position to obtain gratification while employed as an office administrator at the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration. She was 59 years old at the time.
According to her particulars of claim, Sergeant Nantinda, employed by the ACC, wrongfully arrested her on 27 February 2017.
“On the 27 February 2017 and at Windhoek, the Plaintiff was arbitrarily arrested by Sergeant Nantinda who was employed by the first Defendant and as such, whilst acting with the course and scope of his employment with the first Defendant, wrongfully charged the Plaintiff with 3 counts under case number WHK-CRM-4199/2017 for allegedly corruptly using office or position for gratification, corruptly accepting gratification and corruptly accepting gratification whilst in the employment of the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration where she was employed as an administrative officer,” reads the documents.
Mbome remained in custody until March when she was granted bail of N$7 000 with conditions.
However, in July 2020, Mbome was found not guilty and acquitted of all charges.
According to court documents, Mbome contended that there was no reasonable and probable cause for her arrest and subsequent charges. She argued that there was a lack of evidence to support her conviction and that neither Noah nor his employees produced any evidence linking her to the alleged crimes.
As a result of the case, Mbome claimed her reputation was severely damaged, leading to extreme humiliation at the age of 59. She also stated that her health suffered and as a result, she developed chronic high blood pressure and later had a stroke that resulted in a permanent eye lens dislocation.
She is now seeking compensation, claiming that she now depends on medication, and faces medical expenses. Legal proceedings left her in debt after depleting her savings and pension funds to cover medical and legal costs. Adding to the debt was transportation expenses from her house at Onekwaya-West in Ohangwena Region to Windhoek during trials.
She also claimed that Prosecutor General Imalwa and her team did not ensure a fair trial and subjected her to baseless prosecution.
In their closing submissions, the defendants argued that Mbome was implicated in fraudulently issuing a duplicate Full Birth Certificate to an Angolan national and had a significant amount of evidence against her.
They denied that they had insufficient evidence and asserted that their investigation spanned both the Home Affairs Head Office in Windhoek and the Northern Division.
The state further denied that Mbome suffered damages due to her lawful arrest and prosecution, stating that the delay in the criminal case did not prejudice her.
The state further argued that Mbome was named a key participant in the alleged crime based on fraudulent documentation issued by her hand and with her signature.
“The pensioners notwithstanding an extensive amount of direct and circumstantial evidence, on the basis of which she was strongly linked or implicated to fraudulently issuing a duplicate Full Birth Certificate, to an Angolan national by the name Matheus Ndalunduka. Knowing that the recipient was not entitled to be issued with same nor that there had been a prior birth certificate issued, proceeded to institute a claim for damages against the defendants, seeking compensation in a globular amount of N$ 1.695 454.00,” read the submission.