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Shipanga to apologise for calling ex-minister Haufiku a ‘thief’

Allegations ‘caused unbearable trauma, pain’
A WhatsApp rant led to a defamation lawsuit and a subsequent settlement and apology.
Jemima Beukes
Former health minister Dr Bernard Haufiku has withdrawn a defamation lawsuit against businessman Martin Shipanga after the latter succumbed to legal pressure to apologise publicly for calling Haufiku “a thief who used his relatives to loot from government”.

Haufiku filed a withdrawal notice in court last month as well as a settlement agreement in which Shipanga committed to withdraw his remarks.

According to the agreement, Shipanga agreed to apologise to Haufiku on a WhatsApp group where he spread the ‘baseless facts’ by saying: “I hereby retract the statements made... on 25 June 2023 and I unconditionally apologise for any harm or prejudice and offence it might have caused, as that was not my intention”.

In his court papers, Haufiku said these allegations caused him unbearable psychological trauma, distress, stigma, pain and suffering, disgrace and dishonour.

WhatsApp rant

Haufiku launched the defamation lawsuit after Shipanga - on a WhatsApp group named ‘Rundu Project’ - called him out for allegedly abusing his position as Cabinet minister to access power and influence, adding that his name is in the books of those “who screwed up this country”.

He also accused Haufiku of using his relatives “to steal government money, only for them to report you to the Anti-Corruption Commission [ACC]”.

In a letter to Shipanga in August 2023, Haufiku’s lawyers said the statements were made with the purpose to paint him as a ‘selfish thief’ who considers his interests ahead and above the general interest of the Namibian people. Shipanga further aimed to create the impression that Haufiku is untrustworthy and dishonest, they said.

“We place it on record that our client never stole any government money, nor used his relatives to steal government money, nor has he ever been reported to the ACC for stealing government money. To date, not a single charge of theft or any other crime has been levelled against our client, nor is there any ongoing ACC investigation against him,” Haufiku’s legal team wrote.

[email protected]

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Namibian Sun 2024-04-25

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Nam 2.22 SAME | Oryx Properties Ltd 12.1 UP 1.70% | Paratus Namibia Holdings 11.99 SAME | SBN Holdings 8.45 SAME | Trustco Group Holdings Ltd 0.48 SAME | B2Gold Corporation 47.34 DOWN 1.50% | Local Index closed 677.62 UP 0.12% | Overall Index closed 1534.6 DOWN 0.05% | Osino Resources Corp 19.47 DOWN 2.41% | Commodities: Gold US$ 2 328.80/OZ UP +0.54% | Copper US$ 4.52/lb UP +1.85% | Zinc US$ 2 866.10/T UP 2.12% | Brent Crude Oil US$ 88.02/BBP UP +0.03% | Platinum US$ 904.81/OZ UP +0.30%