Judiciary feels Kora heat

Lawyer Eben de Klerk has requested the Law Society of Namibia to take a public stance and ensure that investigations are carried out by the appropriate bodies in order to get to the bottom of why the Kora matter was marked “in camera”.

15 October 2019 | Justice

Pressure is mounting on the judiciary after a bizarre attempt to mark documents linked to the N$23 million Kora scandal as “in camera”.

Among the documents which were restored to the e-justice portal last week after legal threats was an explosive affidavit by Kora All-Africa Awards founder Ernest Adjovi, which placed President Hage Geingob at the centre of the signing of the agreements to bring the awards show to Namibia. Adjovi also lifted the veil on his friendship with the president, which he said had resulted in the agreements being signed.

Geingob late last week rejected the claims made in court papers that he had influenced the decision by the Namibia Tourism Board (NTB) to pay N$23.4 million to Adjovi's company.

However, the dust is refusing to settle on the judiciary's role in removing the court documents from public scrutiny, with calls for investigations into why the matter was blocked in the first place.

The matter between the Namibia Tourism Board and Mundial Telecom Sarl is being heard in the High Court.

Lawyer Norman Tjombe told Namibian Sun that since there was not even a formal application for the matter to be heard in camera, the move should be investigated.

He said in terms of Article 12 of the Namibian Constitution, the press/public can be excluded from a trial for reasons of morals, public order or national security.

“For instance, when children are testifying the public and media are normally excluded from the courtroom or at times the court will give direction that the child's identity must not be disclosed while the court remains in session.”

Tjombe pointed out that the Kora case is far from any of these.

“So far as we know, it is an ordinary case of a contractual dispute of non-performance. That can never pass as a candidate for a secret trial, no matter how embarrassing some details may emerge from documents and or testimonies of witnesses.”

Tjombe said an investigation was necessary to avoid a repeat.

“Without an investigation as to what really happened it will be speculative as to what actions should be taken.”

The Office of the Judiciary said in a media statement last week that no court proceeding can take place in camera unless it meets the criteria stated in Article 12 of the constitution.

“Parties engaged in litigation are, however, entitled, when engaged in settlement discussions, to keep aspects of those discussions secret, including details of any settlement reached.

“The parties in this matter had expressed such wish to the presiding judge whilst engaged in settlement discussions,” said the statement.

Lawyer Eben de Klerk of ISG Namibia referred to Section 13 of the High Court Act, which states: “Save as is otherwise provided in Article 12 (1) (a) and 1 (b) of the Namibian Constitution, all proceedings in the High Court shall be carried on in open court.”

He said for a court to decide whether Section 12 of the High Court Act can be ignored, a court must be convinced that at least one of the grounds for jurisdiction as contained in Article 12 of the Namibian Constitution is present and the secrecy is justifiable.

He said that would require a formal application to the court as well as a formal ruling on such application. According to him, a court would have to give reasons for not complying with the clear duty contained in Section 13 of the High Court Act.

“From the pleadings now available, it appears there was no formal application to have this matter heard in camera, and therefore to refuse public access to the court file, and for the court to override Section 13 of the High Court Act,” said De Klerk.

“Settlement negotiations are always confidential and do not affect the pleadings. It is therefore absurd to say that the pleadings needed to be removed from the public domain for settlement negotiation.”

De Klerk said the judiciary therefore admits that it breached, or at least knowingly allowed a breach of, Section 13 without any justification as there was no order on in-camera proceedings.

De Klerk said he had requested the Law Society of Namibia to take a public stance on this matter and to ensure that investigations are conducted by the appropriate bodies.

He said if no such investigations were done, the Law Society must investigate the matter itself.

“The scope of the investigation needs to include multiple actions and parties as not only was the judiciary statement incorrect and at best aimed to mislead the public, this statement was made on which our president and current justice minister find themselves in the centre of a very controversial civil claim, with potential criminal consequences.”

De Klerk therefore said the investigation needs to access fully who in the judiciary was involved in breaching Section 13 of the High Court Act and also who gave the judiciary instructions to breach this section and then mislead the public.

“It is unfathomable that the judiciary would have done so out of its own volition and if it did, the prejudice to the rule of law is even more severe.”

De Klerk pointed out that the withholding of the pleadings was effected by the registrar of the High Court, seemingly without a court order to that effect.

“This is because the registrar's office is the custodian of the e-justice system which is the system used to file and disclose pleadings. Without a court order to that effect, why were the pleadings purposefully removed by the registrar? Who gave the registrar instructions to remove such pleadings?”

De Klerk also wanted to know if there somehow was a court order, which for some reason was not made public, why it was not made public, and how such order could be given without a formal application.

“For now it appears that one or more of the parties involved in the administration of justice, and very possibly the judiciary itself, may have been complicit in committing the crime of corruption.”

[email protected]


Similar News


Rastafarian sues for N$1.4m

21 hours ago | Justice

JANA-MARI SMITHWINDHOEKA convict serving 35 years for murdering his girlfriend is suing prison authorities for N$1.4 million for cutting his hair.Petrus Fridel Frederik claims his...

Dippenaar magistrate denies bias

1 day - 02 June 2020 | Justice

ERWIN LEUSCHNERSWAKOPMUNDAfter an eight-month break the marathon trial of murder accused Jandré Dippenaar continued at the regional court in Swakopmund this week. At the start...

Babi's bail hearing tomorrow

1 day - 02 June 2020 | Justice

ELLANIE SMITWINDHOEKThe hearing of a bail application by self-proclaimed “prophet” Jackson Babi (30) and his co-accused, Friza Dumeni (25), has been postponed to tomorrow.They are...

Employers take on Geingob over retrenchments

2 days ago - 01 June 2020 | Justice

JEMIMA BEUKES WINDHOEKThe Namibia Employers Federation (NEF) on Friday said President Hage Geingob had no business replacing the existing labour law with a proclamation which...

'Only God can judge him'

2 days ago - 01 June 2020 | Justice

FRANCOISE STEYNBERGWINDHOEKSelf-professed prophet of House of Joy Ministries, Pastor Jackson Babi (30), and his co-accused Friza Dumeni spent the weekend behind bars.Accused of illegally being...

Rundu self-confessed killer back in custody

2 days ago - 01 June 2020 | Justice

KENYA KAMBOWERUNDUMurder accused Castro Domingo (34), who recently made headlines following his release from custody after the Rundu Magistrate's Court provisionally struck his case from...

Fishrot accused swim solo for bail

5 days ago - 29 May 2020 | Justice

OGONE TLHAGE WINDHOEK The cracks are starting to appear in what was previously a joint chorus sheet to either apply or stall...

Alleged girlfriend killer fights for discharge

6 days ago - 28 May 2020 | Justice

NAMPA WINDHOEK A man on trial in the Windhoek High Court for allegedly killing his girlfriend, International University of Management student Iyaloo...

Pointless releasing Gustavo – State

1 week ago - 27 May 2020 | Justice

JEMIMA BEUKESWINDHOEKThe State yesterday said granting Fishrot accused Ricardo Gustavo, who testified yesterday that he is 'penniless', would only burden his already suffering family.The former...

Late Ondonga king sued for strip-searching

1 week ago - 22 May 2020 | Justice

ILENI NANDJATO OSHAKATI The late omukwaniilwa of Ondonga, Immanuel Kauluma, is among 15 people cited in an almost N$4 million lawsuit by employees...

Latest News

Sean K part of Covid-19...

8 hours ago | Art and Entertainment

WINDHOEK EXPRESSWINDHOEKNamibian crooner Sean K is one of 11 African artists who worked on a collaborative song to thank healthcare workers for their commitment and...

2020 Mining Expo and Conference...

21 hours ago | Business

Phillepus Uusiku The Mining Expo and Conference that was scheduled for 2-3 September 2020, after having been postponed from 22-23 April, has been cancelled. The...

NBL ready to deliver

21 hours ago | Business

Phillepus UusikuLife is slowing returning to normal as Namibians navigate the country’s gradual reopening following an easing of trade restrictions which were necessitated to combat...

Treasury demands reports of lockdown...

21 hours ago | Economics

OGONE TLHAGEWINDHOEKThe ministry of finance will demand full reports from public entities, ministries, agencies and offices detailing procurement expenditure incurred during stage one of the...

Over 120 lose jobs at...

21 hours ago | Labour

KENYA KAMBOWERUNDUAbout 120 people lost their jobs yesterday after a fallout between Chinese-born business magnate Stina Wu and a subcontractor that labour inspectors found to...

Namibia’s food security paradox

21 hours ago | Agriculture

Venomukona Tjiseua, sustainable agriculturalist: “The government must revisit its priority list and place agriculture at its correct spot.”With jobs disappearing, incomes drying up and savings...

The contest for hearts and...

21 hours ago | Opinion

Nightfall does not come all at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight, when everything remains seemingly unchanged.The above quote by...

Indemnity forms a matter of...

21 hours ago | Education

OGONE TLHAGEWINDHOEKWith some learners expected to return to schools today, education ministry executive director Sanet Steenkamp says parents will have to trust that schools have...

SA loosens lockdown to revive...

21 hours ago | International

South Africa sought to revive its stuttering economy on Monday with a partial lifting of its coronavirus lockdown, letting people out for work, worship or...

Load More