Police, army successfully sued N$300k for abuse

A spate of civilian lawsuits arose from the joint police and NDF security operations Hornkranz and Kalahari Desert in 2019 and 2020.

02 September 2021 | Justice

JANA-MARI SMITH







WINDHOEK

Government was ordered this week to pay N$30 000 in damages plus legal fees for the assault by police and soldiers on a civilian during 2019’s infamous Operation Hornkranz.

This is at least the third loss notched up by the Namibian armed security forces this year revolving around unlawful assaults and misuse of violence against civilians by soldiers and police during the operation.

In May, government signed a N$250 000 settlement agreement with Luise Taakambadhala Mwanyangapo following an assault by soldiers on 27 April 2019. Mwanyangapo sued government for N$500 000 in February 2020.

In March, the police and defence force agreed to a N$30 000 payment to Alexander Ngoma Afonso, whose assault took place on 3 May 2019 at the hands of soldiers and police during broad daylight. Afonso’s lawsuit had asked for N$160 000 in damages.

This week, High Court judge Dinnah Usiku awarded Kyle Sullivan N$25 000 in damages for assault and N$5 000 for unlawful arrest and detention, in addition to costs of the suit. Reasons for the judgment will only be given in late September. Sullivan’s lawyers had argued that N$100 000 would be a fair amount in damages.

Sullivan and Mwanyangapo’s assaults took place on the same day, 27 April 2019.

New name, same old

A spate of civilian lawsuits arose from the joint police and Namibian Defence Force (NDF) security operations Hornkranz and Kalahari Desert in 2019 and 2020.

At the time, the government said it would launch full-scale investigations into the assault claims. Hornkranz was officially launched in December 2018.

Following a number of controversies around undue force by soldiers and police, the operation came to a halt in May 2019. Soon after, however, it continued, under the new name Kalahari Desert.

Not us

In all three cases, the police and defence force initially denied all allegations against them. In Sullivan’s case, government attorneys argued that there was insufficient evidence to prove that Sullivan’s assault took place at the hands of soldiers or police.

They argued that it could have been a van laden with private security officers who assaulted him.

In October 2020, the six defendants named in Mwanyangapo’s case, including the chief of defence, minister of defence, the inspector general of the police and the ministry of safety and security, submitted a plea in which they denied all claims made against their armed officers.

In May 2020, the defendants in Afonso’s case, including the ministries of defence and safety and security, also denied all allegations against their officers.

Afonso was represented by the Legal Assistance Centre, while

Unomwinjo Katjipuka-Sibolile of Nixon Marcus Public Law Office acted on behalf of Mwanyangapo.

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