Rapist sues prison authorities

A man who served a lengthy prison term for rape and assault claims that he was kept in jail for two years too long.

16 October 2019 | Justice

A convicted rapist is suing prison authorities and the judiciary for N$1 million for failing to release him after his 10-year prison term ended in 2014 and instead keeping him behind bars for a further 722 days before he regained his freedom.

Sebedeus Hoseb says his 10-year-prison sentence expired on 18 June 2014, but that he was only released two years later, on 10 June 2016.

He argues that the lengthy hold-up before his release, due to bungled paperwork and failure of authorities to communicate a five-year reduction of his original prison sentence, was a grave violation of his constitutional rights.

Hoseb was originally sentenced to 15 years behind bars in 2004 after he was found guilty on a charge of rape which he had committed as an 18-year-old school pupil.

During the same year he was also found guilty of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, and sentenced to four years, as well as an additional two years, or a N$2 000 fine, for escaping from custody.

During a successful appeal against the rape sentence a year later, in which his prison term was reduced by five years, the court found that the circumstances under which Hoseb had committed the rape did not require “the imposition of a more severe sentence than the minimum 10 years' imprisonment.” Further, that the rape survivor's claim that he had used a knife to threaten her was not supported by clear evidence on whether it was a “pocketknife or whether it was a piece of cutlery lying on a cupboard somewhere inside the room.” The court also underlined that the State did not provide sufficient evidence of “any significant degree of psychological trauma” suffered by the rape survivor, and that the rape was not “planned and that the degree of violence used was not significant.”



Stay

Hoseb's particulars of claim state that although the appeal judgment was delivered in June 2005, relevant staff at the judiciary were negligent and failed to convey, within a reasonable period of time, the reduced sentence to prison authorities. Moreover, they failed to issue an amended warrant of committal to prison authorities until 10 June 2016, after which he was released.

The judiciary, in a plea filed at court, admit that the issuing of the amended warrant of detention, dated June 2016, was only done after it “came to light that the result of [Hoseb's] rape appeal success had not been communicated to the Namibian Correction Services.”

They admit further that the “administrative omissions” Hoseb accuses authorities of “may very well be attributed to negligent acts” but Hoseb has to provide proof of this.

They further argue that Hoseb's continued incarceration was not due to administrative omissions but that he “continued to be detained because he was still lawfully servicing his other custodial sentence.” They argue he was “not entitled to be released from custody upon the success of his appeal on the rape sentence as he still had an outstanding period of imprisonment to serve from his other effective custodial sentences.”

His 2016 release “was on account of his earning remission of sentence on his total effective sentence.”

They argue that Hoseb eventually had three warrants of committal authorising his detention for a “total period of 21 years whilst he served the custodial sentences” and that by June 2012, the effective prison term he faced stood at a total of 19 years, which mean his earliest possible release date was 29 April 2023.

Yesterday, the case was postponed to 18 November for a case management conference hearing. Norman Tjombe appeared on behalf of Hoeseb, and government attorney Aina Ndungula on behalf of the defendants.



JANA-MARI SMITH

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