Januarie sues government over assault

Trade unionist Werner Januarie claims he was assaulted by the police and defence force for refusing to wear a mask.

06 January 2021 | Justice

ELLANIE SMIT

WINDHOEK



Taxi unionist Werner Januarie is suing the government in connection with an incident that occurred last year in which he claims he was assaulted and harassed by the police and members of the Namibian Defence Force.

Januarie registered a case at the Windhoek High Court on Monday in which he lists safety and security minister Frans Kapofi as the first defendant.

Other defendants named in the matter are Inspector- General Sebastian Ndeitunga, Prosecutor-General Martha Himalwa, President Hage Geingob and Attorney-General Festus Mbandeka.

According to the particulars of claim, Januarie is seeking N$74 million in relief. He says half of the amount would be accepted if the parties reached an out-of-court settlement.

He is claiming relief for violation of human dignity, violation of fundamental human rights and freedoms, reputational damage and public humiliation, emotional injury and psychological suffering, malicious prosecution and detention and cruel and degrading treatment.

Januarie, who is the Namibia Transport and Taxi Union president, states in the particular of claim that the incident occurred on 21 August 2020 in Dolam location.

According to him he was harassed and assaulted by the police and soldiers. He says they also jumped on his body and threatened his life. Thereafter they arrested him and detained him for an entire weekend at the Wanaheda police station, upon which Januarie claims false charges were laid against him for which he has to appear in court.

According to Januarie he was not guilty of any offence as the incident occurred while stage three of the coronavirus regulations was in place. These regulations state that an authorised officer may instruct a person who is not wearing a mask to wear it or leave a public place. “A person who fails or refuses to comply with an instruction commits an offence.”

Januarie argues that the fact that one is found without a mask is not a crime and he was not given opportunity to comply.

Januarie said after he laid charges against the specific officers, he unsuccessfully requested assistance from the Legal Aid Directorate and the Office of the Ombudsman in instituting civil litigation against the State.

Januarie says he is suing the respondents in his personal capacity as he was assaulted in that capacity and not in his official capacity.

A letter of demand was served on respondents on 23 November and on Monday a combined summons was issued to all respondents to inform them that Januarie had instituted legal action against them.

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