Prison authorities face fresh N$900 000 lawsuit

16 August 2019 | Justice

JANA-MARI SMITH



Court-ordered mediation related to a N$900 000 lawsuit brought by a Windhoek prisoner in April stalled this month after prison authorities failed to deliver him to the appointment due to a broken vehicle.

Max Kleophas is suing five prison guards, in addition to the safety and security ministry and correctional services, for physical and psychological suffering and trauma he had allegedly sustained in an allegedly unprovoked attack on 7 October 2018.

He alleges that he was unlawfully and wrongfully assaulted by five men – a correctional services superintendent and four senior officers - in the corridor leading to the visitor’s area of the Windhoek prison.

He claims that he was assaulted with “fist punches, kicks with boots, and a hard dry stick all over the body and on the head” while he was handcuffed.

He alleges that he fell to the ground, where the five men continued to assault him “again and over again to the point that [he] became unconscious.”

He claims he was examined by doctors at a hospital two days later, after he had been admitted for “ear pain, neck pain, back pain, stomach pain and post-assault-trauma”.

Further, that on 10 October, a specialist medical report noted that he had sustained “poor hearing as a result of the unjustified and unprovoked assault.”

His medical passport with the doctor’s notes was submitted as evidence.

The five officers named in the lawsuit, as well as the other parties, have indicated they will defend the matter.

In July, the case was referred for court-ordered mediation on 9 August, but a letter by the mediator, Lotta Amubunda, was filed last week notifying the court that the mediation could not take place as the prisoner was not present.

“He is an inmate and the prison authorities did not have transport to bring the plaintiff on time for the mediation as the car that was accordingly available broke down,” she wrote.

She asked that the matter be postponed to 23 August for mediation.

Kleophas is suing for N$200 000 in general damages, in addition to N$500 000 for psychological and emotional pain and suffering, and N$100 000 each for loss of amenities of life and for future medical expenses.

High Court Judge Herman Oosthuizen is presiding, while Kleophas is represented by Francois Bangamwabo and the state parties by government attorney Monique Meyer.

Namibian Sun was unable to establish whether Kleophas was one of the men convicted for the Goreangab Dam murder and robbery in 2007.

In 2014, three men, including a Max Kleophas, were each sentenced to an effective 35 years behind bars for the murder of Windhoek resident Cornelius Swiegers.

Swiegers and his family had gone to the dam to take photos of a passing comet. He was shot point blank in the chest.

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