Retired army general sues police for stock theft arrest

09 December 2021 | Justice

JANA-MARI SMITH



WINDHOEK

Retired major-general Thomas Hamunyela is suing the Namibian police for N$420 000, alleging that his arrest for stock theft and three nights behind bars before he was freed on bail in January were unlawful, arbitrary and unnecessary.

Following the failure of court-ordered mediation in August, the case is now heading for trial next year.

Hamunyela filed the civil suit in March despite the criminal stock theft case still being underway at the Rundu Magistrate’s Court.

Namibian Sun reported earlier this year that the livestock allegedly stolen by Hamunyela were valued at close to N$30 000. He was arrested on 12 January, and released on N$5 000 bail on 15 January.

“The arrest and detention were not necessary and appropriate as the members of the police did not have any fear that the plaintiff, if given summons, would not appear in court,” Hamunyela argued in his particulars of claim.

He added that the police could have deployed “other modes” to secure his attendance in court.

He alleged that the police did not have a warrant of arrest and that there was “no reasonable suspicion” that he had committed any offence.

He also claimed that the “misrepresentation of facts and [the police’s] malice-motivated opposition” to his release caused him to spend three nights behind bars before he was freed on bail.

Hamunyela is asking N$150 000 in damages for the unlawful arrest and detention in addition to N$100 000 for his incarceration, as well as N$170 000 in overall damages.

Normal procedure

The ministry of home affairs, immigration, safety and security is defending the civil suit, and denied any wrongdoing, underlining that both the arrest and the detention was lawful, and confirmed by a court of law.

In its plea, the ministry underlined that the Hamunyela was arrested for the theft of cattle belonging to Thadeus Nairongo from Kaparara in the Kavango West Region.

The police argue further that Hamunyela’s arrest was in line with the relevant stock theft act, and formed part of normal procedure.

“Theft - as read with the stock theft act as amended - is a serious offence that warranted the exercise of discretion to arrest [Hamunyela] in terms of the criminal procedure act without a warrant.”

Yesterday, the case was postponed to January to set dates for the upcoming trial. Sisa Namandje is acting on behalf of Hamunyela in both the civil and criminal cases, while the State is represented by Jabulani Ncube. High Court judge Esi Schimming-Chase presides.

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