Legal bullet aimed at cops

The police are set to defend a lawsuit for N$3 million after a four-year-old boy was shot dead while sleeping in his bed.

17 September 2019 | Justice

A Namibian police officer and his bosses are defending a N$3 million lawsuit brought by a grieving mother whose four-year-old son was killed by a stray bullet that also injured her and another son.

Court papers filed by Siegfriedine Kahimunu in July say the incident took place in Katutura on 14 February, when a “certain Sergeant Laury Haimbondi” negligently fired a bullet that burst through the shack in which Kahimunu and her three children were sleeping.

The bullet struck Kahimunu and her two sons, fatally wounding the four-year-old boy, Muhupua Verunduruka Kenahiwo Kahimunu, in the abdomen.

Kahimunu and her surviving son, Rendy Kahimunu, were both hospitalised for their injuries.

The bullet missed a third child, reportedly a two-year-old girl.

The bullet was fired in the early morning hours, while Haimbondi was said to be on his way to report for duty at the Katutura Magistrate's Court. He was reportedly surrounded by a pack of dogs. He fired a shot at the dogs, which entered the nearby shack in which the family of four were sleeping.

The incident took place in Mungunda Street, in the Freedom Square area.

Kahimunu's particulars of claim state that Haimbondi acted negligently and unreasonably when he fired the shot, and she is claiming damages of N$3 million in addition to her son's funeral costs.

She says his action caused her emotional distress, nervous shock, mental anguish, pain and suffering, anxiety and trauma to the tune of N$1 million.

Her second claim is brought on behalf of her surviving son, Rendy Kahimunu, for the pain and suffering he experienced as a result of the wrongful and unlawful shooting.

She is asking for N$1 million in damages against the police officer and his superiors, including the minister of safety and security, the inspector-general of the Namibian police, as well as the Namibian government as the third defendant, for the negligent and unreasonable injury caused to her son.

Her papers claim that a “reasonable policeman with his training and experience” would not have acted in the manner he did.

Her third claim of an additional N$1 million is based on the injuries she sustained and the loss of her son. Her papers state that Haimbondi “wrongfully and unlawfully shot” and injured her during his negligent action.

In her fourth claim, Kahimunu is asking the court to grant her an additional N$2 300 in respect of her son's funeral costs. She is also asking the court to order that the costs of the lawsuit be paid by the defendants.

She claims that Haimbondi failed to exercise due caution and care in handling the firearm, and that he failed to avoid the shooting, when, with the exercise of reasonable care, he could have “and should have done.”

Further, he failed to ensure that when firing the shot, he exercised due caution and care with regard to the direction of the shots, and he fired the firearm in his possession when it “was dangerous and inopportune to do so.”

The papers further note that in April, a demand letter to the tune of N$3.5 million, was sent by Kahimunu's legal team to the Namibian police force, requesting that the monies be paid in lieu of the negligent action of the police officer, the death of her son, and the injuries sustained by herself and her surviving son.

The demand was not met.

Kahimunu is represented by Tjingairi Kaurivi of Kangueehi & Kavendjii Inc., while the defendants are represented by government attorney Heather Harker.

Last week, High Court judge Nate Ndauendapo postponed the case to 16 January next year, pending the finalisation of the ballistics report and further investigations.

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