Rastafarian sues for N$1.4m

Frederik Petrus Fridel is asking the court to award him N$1 million in damages for the cutting of his hair without his consent and a further N$400 000 for the emotional distress it caused.

03 June 2020 | Justice

JANA-MARI SMITH

WINDHOEK



A 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 rights were violated in February 2018 when prison guards allegedly held him down and cut off his dreadlocks, which he had grown as part of his Rastafarian faith while behind bars.

He claims that this caused him severe emotional distress.

“It took Frederik many years to grow his dreadlocks and to care for them and cutting his dreadlocks has changed his identity as a Rastafarian and it will take a very long time for his hair to grow back to the same level,” court papers submitted to the Windhoek High Court state.

Frederik is asking the court to award him N$1 million in damages for the cutting of his hair without his consent and a further N$400 000 for the emotional distress it caused.

Frederik is serving a 35-year sentence at the Hardap correctional facility for murdering his girlfriend at Rosh Pinah in 2012. He stabbed her at least 27 times.

He claims that in February 2018 prison guards took him to a room where he was told that long hair was not allowed by prison regulations.

He claims that the guards held his arms while one of them cut off his dreadlocks with scissors.

Frederik is suing the safety and security ministry, the commissioner-general of the Namibian correctional service, the chief of the Hardap prison and three prison warders he says were involved in the incident. All are defending the matter. An attempt to mediate the matter failed last year.



Different sides

Witness statements by the prison guards accuse Frederik of fomenting unrest at the Hardap correctional facility by starting an illegal gang.

He persuaded other inmates to dread their hair as a symbol of being part of the gang, they claim. The witnesses point out that long hair is not permitted in prison in terms of Section 30 of the Namibian Correctional Services Act.

The guards also state that Frederik had short hair when he was sentenced in 2015.

According to the warders, on the day in question a report was received that some inmates were smoking contraband tobacco.

When the guards investigated the report, Frederik was uncooperative.

“He proceeded to boast to the other inmates that he was an important person and he did not want to deal with low-ranking officers,” Warrant Officer Jackson Nghitoteiwa writes in his witness statement.

The warder claims that he and his colleagues escorted Frederik out of the cell and reminded him that long hair was not allowed.

Frederik was given an ultimatum to cut his hair or have it cut for him. He refused to comply.

The guards then proceeded to cut his hair “without any resistance from him”. When they were halfway through, Frederik “calmly stated that he would complete the haircut himself. He walked back to his sectional cell without incident,” Jackson's statement reads.

Warrant Officer Gideon Kauko Nambahu's statement corroborates this version of events.

Lawyer Titus Mbaeva is representing Frederik, while the government is represented by Monique Meyer of the Office of the Government Attorney.

Last week High Court judge Nate Ndauendapo postponed the case to 16 June for further submissions.

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