I didn't lose veteran's battle - Ya Nangoloh

31 January 2019 | Justice

Phil ya Nangoloh is continuing his fight for veteran status, having applied to the High Court to re-enrol his first court challenge against a decision of the Veterans' Appeal Board.

High Court Judge Harald Geier last week struck the case from the court roll on the grounds that it had become “inactive”.

In his fresh application lodged on 28 January, Ya Nangoloh maintains that the High Court registrar must re-enrol the case and allocate a new date for its hearing.

He said contrary to earlier media reports he had not lost his battle to be recognised as a veteran of the liberation struggle, but was not given the opportunity to appeal his case in the High Court.

Reasons for non-appearance

Ya Nangoloh said he “unintentionally” failed to appear in court on 23 January because he was “never personally given or served” with a notification issued by the court on 17 January.

The 17 January notification stipulated that Ya Nangoloh must appear before the court on 23 January to explain why there had been no activity in the case for six months and why it should not be struck from the roll.

While maintaining that he was not served with the notification, Ya Nangoloh also contended that the timing of the notice was “unreasonable and unfair” because it was issued at such short notice – barely four days prior to the hearing date when the matter was summarily struck from the roll and considered as finalised.

Ya Nangoloh said he did not know that a managing judge had been assigned to his case and that he had patiently been waiting and hoping to be notified, which did not happen.

He said he only became aware of the court date when a journalist called him on the date of the hearing – 23 January – to enquire about the case.

The hearing was set down for 08:30 on that date, and upon hearing about it around 10:30 he said he rushed to the registrar's office where he was put in telephonic contact with Judge Geier's secretary, who then informed him that his case had been struck from the roll.

“I was obviously very shocked, speechless and devastated at this manifestly drastic decision,” Ya Nangoloh states in his affidavit.

Revive appeal

Ya Nangoloh further asks that the court allow him a revival of his appeal against the Veterans' Appeal Board.

He argues that a reinstatement order should mean that the entire appeal, including the original notice of appeal and the record, is revived and reinstated on the court's roll.

He said the appeal should be considered as if it had never lapsed.

Ya Nangoloh had lodged an appeal with the High Court against a decision by the Veterans' Appeal Board that his application for veteran status be dismissed.

The board argued that Ya Nangoloh had “deserted” the liberation struggle when he left Swapo in 1980.

Ya Nangoloh, however, argued that Swapo should not be equated with the liberation struggle, and that the veterans' board's decision was “politically driven, arbitrary and unreasonable”.

He maintains that he never abandoned the liberation struggle, which he was “consistently and persistently involved in”.