Maria Hamutenya and Rose- Mary Haufiku
The recent transfer of rape accused Dennis Noa from Wanaheda Police Station to Seeis Police station on the outskirts of Windhoek has brought perceptions of special treatment for high profile suspects in Namibia.
Dennis Noa, son of Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) Director, Paulus Noa, appeared on Wednesday for the first time at the Katutura Magistrate court on allegations of sexually violating an 18 years old male patient at Katutura Hospital. The patient is in Intensive Care Unity (ICU) after sustaining a head injury from a car accident.
According to Deputy Commisioner Kupembona responsible for Investigation at the Namibia Police Force, Noa allegedly removed the patient from where he was being kept to another room where the alleged sexual assault took place.
“The victim was removed from his room to another room were the sexual act happened, on his way back that’s when the doctors found condoms with him,” said
Despite the severity of the matter, Noa through his lawyer, Mcleod Jansen, requested for a transfer from Wanaheda Police Station to Seeis Police Station on grounds of his safety and his profession, which Magistrate Johannes Shuuveni granted. Fishrot accused, including former Justice Minister Sacky Shanghala, former Fisheries Minister Bernhard Esau, former Investec Managing Director, James Hatuikulipi, businessman Fitty Hatuikulipi, Ricardo Gustavo and Pius Mwatelulo were detained at the same police station after their initial arrest since November 2019 and not the nearest Police station as usually is the case , after being accused of irregularly benefitting from fishing quotas worth millions of dollars involving an Icelandic company, Samherji.
British billionaire, Harvey Boulter (51), continues to remain holed at Auas Hills Private Hospital under police guard in Windhoek, almost two months after killing Gerhard van Wyk at Kaross (54) on 27 February. According to the private hospital website, patients are offered spacious modern private rooms each with its own DSTV bouquet and remote control, a privilege not afforded other suspects, who when sick, are mainly taken to Central and Katutura Hospital and discharged back to the cells as soon as they recover.
Boulter was allegedly shot in the hand during the scuffle that led to Van Wyk’s fatal death, and it has taken him close to two months to recover from the bullet wound.
Kunene Deputy Commissioner, Rudolf Kanyetu, confirmed to the Windhoek Observer that Boulter was still admitted at the hospital, which is housed in the high-end retirement village in Auas Blick.
Deputy Commissioner Kanyetu maintained that he was sick.
“If the doctor says the condition is better he can stay at the cells ,but if the doctor says we need to keep him in the hospital for a certain period, then the person will be admitted at the hospital,” said Kanyetu adding that he was under police guard.
“There are a number of inmates who are admitted in hospitals and being guarded by police because they are in police care.”
Ombudsman John Walters who has previously investigated the country’s holding cells, said being high profile should not guarantee one special treatment. “Unfortunately, justice should be seen for everybody and not because I am this person in the society, I deserve to be treated differently, we are all equal before the law.”
Walters added that Namibian facilities are also not fit to keep human beings detained under such horrendous conditions, adding that the transfer of Noa has created a perception that not everyone in Namibia is equal, especially when the judiciary is involved.
“I would, advise , although I cannot interfere in judicial matters, the magistrate and judges must take some time and go and visit those cells and see what it looks like,” said Walters
“In the eyes of the judiciary some people are more equal than the others,” added Walters
LPM leader, Bernadus Swartbooi, who is also a qualified lawyer, also agreed with the opinion that a lot of high profile lawbreakers are taken to different holding cells, but added that not everyone moved to Seeis police station is high profile.
“I remember we visited some of our community members who were not high-profile VIP people that were also taken to the airport. So, one must check whether it is always absolutely the case that only certain people are taken there,” said Swartbooi
“My view would be that, whichever place that the person has been taken to, at least tells us that the system is functioning, to some extent, if because he is the son of somebody important, and therefore he was not prosecuted, that would mean a bigger crisis,” said Swartbooi
Swartbooi also added that the state of prisons is also a concern as the United Nations has complained about holding cells such as those in Wanaheda.
“But may I also say, and in defence of the system that there is also a former councillor, who has been treated like any other person,” Swartbooi stated.